It might seem a little late to post about goal-setting for the new year, but if we're honest, I don't think most of us give it much serious thought until we're a couple of weeks in and have a better feel for what we want from the year ahead. I find that intentions and goals tend to have a pretty different vibe about them, but in a very literal sense there are some important differences that I want to point out too.
When you know the difference between goals and intentions, you'll also see that it affects the way that we use them as well. And although goals and intentions are different, they can be used to complement each other.
Side note: I actually wrote this blog post way back in October 2014 as part of my first freebie for my tribe members but after a couple of plot twists the eBook never made its debut, so instead I'm dusting it off today to share with you. I've updated it slightly but this is essentially a snippet into exclusive content for my tribe (lucky you!).
The Power of Intentions
Intentions are wonderful things and so diverse, but they are very simple to use. They differ to goals in 3 key ways:
Intentions are flexible, lasting and grounded in your beliefs and values.
Intentions aren’t defined by outcomes or strict deadlines and can be adapted to different circumstances so they can manifest in many different forms and roll with the punches (because they focus on mindset, behaviours and choices). When we set intentions we are declaring and demonstrating what values and feelings are the most important to us. When you make choices and take action based on your intentions you are inevitably making choices that align with your values and desires so by acting in accordance with your beliefs you fulfil your intentions.
Example: Goal = lose 5kg OR Intention = eat mindfully.
I like to solidify my intentions with a physical token, like this Heart Chaka necklace from Violet Gray which I use whenever I set an intention around self-love or balance. if you're a yogi another idea might be to wear clothes and jewellery, or light a candle, in the colour of the chakra that you'd like your intention to support.
Another practice that I’m really big on is using guiding words. These are simply a few words that summarise the themes that you want to focus on in the year ahead, but they may also embody your values, intentions and desired feelings, e.g mindfulness, grace, bold, anchored, soar, play etc. Narrow it down to as few words as possible (1-3) and scribble them on a post-it note as a constant reminder. For example, this year I chose the word BALANCE as the overall guiding theme, as well as MOVEMENT and MINDFULNESS as specific areas to focus on.
The Pupose of Goals
Goals can be a double-edged sword. We tend to think of them as either pathways to success or indicators of inadequacy when we fail to measure up. The feelings of joy and pride when we reach our goals are typically fleeting and can suck you into a mentality of dissatisfaction.
Luckily, there is a third option. Instead, view goals as tools with which we measure our effort, not outcomes. By measuring our goals on a basis of effort we are keeping an eye on our actions and progress, without allowing the outcome to determine your success.
Example: Aiming to eat a salad or soup for dinner four days a week is a better goal than aiming to lose 5kg.
Goals can be used for the good when we release our attachment to results.
If you want to create external changes, it’s important to remember that these are rooted in inner change. Don’t be put off making physical and recordable goals but bear in mind that The Universe/God/Higher Power/Whatever Floats Your Boat might have other plans. This is why it is so important not to be attached to a particular outcome or result, especially if it is largely beyond our control.
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” - Les Brown
Putting it all together
In a nutshell, intentions place the emphasis on a way of BEING, whilst goals place the emphasis on DOING. Intentions are a kinder and more mindful approach to goals, but goals do still serve a purpose, and when used together they can have a huge impact. At the crux of it, I use intentions as a way of (re)committing myself to the practices that I value the most and that align with my 'big vision' for living a vibrant and fulfilling life, with goals acting as helpful markers for progress along the way.
The start of a new year is the perfect time to set some intentions and supporting goals, but I also like to make this a more regular ritual so that they don't get neglected and forgotten. Whether you choose to set them monthly, weekly or at each new moon, it doesn't matter - just so long as you are regularly taking stock of your life and your sense of direction, it's all groovy!