Grab a cup of coffee and join me to chat about . . . goals and intentions.
So, you say. Here we are on a Monday morning . . . in late January . . . and the topic is goals and intentions???
Sure. Why not.
I mean, I know we’re all much more interested in that topic at the beginning of the new year. But . . . January 1 is just an arbitrary date, y’know? It’s ALWAYS a fine time to set your intentions and goals! Any day works!
"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."
--- John Lennon
So. Let’s start here:
What’s the difference between . . . a resolution, a goal, and an intention?
A resolution is something you determine to do from this day forward. Example . . . “Starting today, I will get in shape.”
A goal is focused on a specific achievement or destination in the future. Example . . . “I will run in the Capitol City 5K in September.”
An intention is focused on the inner relationship you have with yourself, here in the present moment. Example . . . “I am active and healthy.”
In other words, intentions reflect how you want to BE; how you want to live your life. They provide integrity and unity in your life right now, in the present moment. Goals are all about an outcome, getting you where you want to be in some future moment. (And we’re just going to let resolutions sit right where they are . . . in the bottom of your champagne glass back on New Year’s Eve.)
You need both. Intentions AND goals. (Also strategies and habits and a plan for how you’re going to get there, but that’s for another day.) Your goals and intentions should line up. If your intentions reflect what matters most to you, and your goals align with your intentions, well . . . you have a much greater chance of success at achieving your goals! (And you’ll be happier along the way, too.)
As for me . . . I spend quite a bit of time throughout the month of January each year figuring out what I hope to do during the months ahead (my goals) -- and then plugging those goals into my personal intentions. While I do review my intentions in January, too, I find they really don’t change much from year to year. Then, as the year rolls along, I review my intentions and goals with each new moon cycle to see how I'm progressing.
For the last several years, my overarching intention has been to . . . Live my best life for the rest of my life. (I like it. I haven’t seen any reason to change it.) Then, I come up with 8-10 “mini-intentions” to support it. (I try to compress my intentions into the fewest words possible that still support my meaning.) My goals for the year plug in to at least one of my intentions.
It’s a process that works for me. I know what I want to do (my goals) . . . and I know WHY (my intentions). That “why” part? That makes the goals much more likely to happen -- or, if the goals need to be changed or released or expanded during the year, it doesn’t throw me off so much.
(Those photos above are from my "root" journal for the year. You can see my overarching intention on the little envelope in the first photo. The envelope is filled with the cards you see in the second photo -- those are my "mini-intentions" for the year. On the back of each card, I've written out some of my goals for the year.)
So I’m curious.
What do YOU do?
What’s your process when you think about setting goals and intentions for the new year?
And does your process work for you?
Share your tips, suggestions, and frustrations in the comments. It's never a bad time to set (or review) your goals and intentions!
Want some more information about goals vs. intentions?
The Heart’s Intention by Phillip Moffitt from the website Dharma Wisdom. This article is a bit long, but does explain the differences between goals and intentions really well.
The Science of Setting Goals by Nadia Goodman from the website Ideas.Ted.com. This article is more about setting good goals and the interplay between goals and intentions.