Goals vs. Intentions

January is the time of setting goals and thinking about the possibility of the new year and while I am all about striving for more, I am not a fan of New Year's Goals.


I used to make New Year's Goals every year. I'd have a list of 5-10 goals that I wanted to complete by the end of the year and I always felt so certain that I would accomplish them. But I never did. They'd drop off around February or March and then I'd forget all about them until the next year, when I would recommit to them with certainty that this would be year I'd accomplish them...and the cycle continues. Maybe you've been in that place too?


As I've been on my daring life journey, it's been hard to make long term goals because my Inner Compass is often leading me to places not even on my radar. So, many of the goals I think up with my mind don't get achieved, not just from a lack of following through, but simply because my goals change as more of my path is revealed to me. The things that I think will get me where I want to go, don't end up being what I need or even want. So, rather than make goals, I set intentions.


What is an intention?


An intention is the purpose behind a certain set of actions. When you set an intention you are saying what you are committing to and what you want to be focusing on. It's more focused on the feeling than the actual end result. For example, rather than make a goal of losing 20 lbs, I set an intention of health. This could look like drinking a certain amount of water, exercising, or choosing between junk food or a healthier option. I'm setting the intention to be healthy, but what that looks like on any given day will look different. So, rather than saying that I need to exercise every day, I might ask myself what I could do today or what the healthier version of me might do and I do that thing.


Why does this matter?


When we set goals that are results oriented, when we don't do that specific thing, we think we are failing. And when we think we're failing, we eventually give up.

But with an intention, we are more focused on who we are being rather than just what we're doing. We no longer have to be boxed in to certain actions and our goals can easily adapt as our life visions shift and as different things become important to us.


How to set an intention


1. Make a list of what you'd like to focus on


Make a list of everything that you'd like to focus on, change, or start doing in your life. Don't judge it, just write down whatever comes to mind.


2. Group them into categories


Take a look at what you've written down. Can any of them be grouped into categories? For example, working out and drinking more water, might be grouped together because the end goal for both is taking care of your body.


3. Pick a word that describes each category


Look at your different groupings and see if there is a word that you can use to describe it. For example, working out and drinking more water might be under "Health" or "Take care of my body".


4. Pick your intentions


Depending on how many words you have, you may want to narrow it down to a few. I know many people who like to narrow it down to their "one word," but I personally can't ever narrow it down to just one. This year, I settled on five words. This is all personal preference, so pick however many you want and write them down. Display them somewhere you'll see them often. Reflect on them every day and ask yourself how you can live these intentions more in your life.


What do you think? Are you going to try making intentions instead of goals this year? Whatever you decide to do, make sure you set aside some time to intentionally think about the upcoming year and what you want to accomplish.