Most of us, myself included, live our lives by setting goals. We use goal setting as a way to accomplish things or get what we want. While we may think that goal setting helps us get things done, there is actually a better way we can achieve what we desire.
Setting an intention is more powerful and goes deeper than simply setting a goal and striving toward it. Intention setting is a strong tool that boosts inner strength and raises self-esteem. By setting an intention, you are able to see growth through actions and create healthy habits.
Goals vs. Intentions
A goal is an aimed desire or result — what you want to achieve. An intention is something you want and plan to do. It is the path you follow until you get to the goal. Intentions are journeys. Goals are destinations.
Intentions are different than goals because a goal is a practical, concrete vision of an ideal future. Setting goals is a cognitive process that involves planning and analysis. You are controlling how you are going to move from the bottom (where you currently are) to the top (where you want to eventually be). A downside of goal setting is when life gets in the way. Shit happens and it can be difficult to maintain your self-discipline and stick to your concrete plan. When you have to turn your motivation into flexibility, it is hard to stay on track.
Intentions support your goals from the inside. Intention setting is establishing what you are intending to accomplish from your actions. It is committing to what you want your life to be about as you proceed forward. Your focus is the present, not the future.
Intentions force you to look within to reflect on who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Setting an intention requires checking in with yourself on the inside as you are working on the outside. If you have ever found it challenging to see difficulty from a positive perspective, then this could be a magical lifestyle shift for you. Intentions involve a unique kind of focus, reminding you of the bigger picture. Putting your results aside, intentions invite introspection, asking you what you are hoping to gain from the process.
Working with Intentions
There are 4 easy steps to follow when you want to set an intention.
The most important principle of intention setting is to always frame the intention positively. For instance, change a sentence like “I want to stop being fat and ugly” to the more loving, optimistic “I want to radiate good health and joy and feel great in my body.”
Once you have worded your intention into a positive, create it on the back of a wider goal and envision it at an achievable frequency.
Last, have some fun with it… make it a part of your morning routine and create a ritual around it. I have found that if I wake up and meditate for 5 minutes, then journal around my desired dream, I am in tune and focused on my feelings for the rest of the day.
It is important to remind yourself of your intention every day, a good reminder is to write it on a sticky note and post it on your mirror — that way you see it often, which reminds you to focus on it. By having a constant reminder of your intention, you will begin to notice how you are progressing towards your what you desire, which will give you even more motivation. Choosing positive thoughts is a way to raise your vibration and get your energy flowing early in the morning.
How to Apply Intention Setting to Your Life
As an example, let’s say your goal is to deepen your meditation practice. You can set a monthly, weekly, and daily intention to get yourself there. I recommend writing it on paper. Here’s what that might look like:
Monthly: Deepen my meditation practice to improve feelings of stress and anxiety.
Weekly: Complete a guided meditation once a day for at least 5 minutes.
Daily: Download the Calm App to practice guided meditations.
Each morning you can look back and record if you completed the meditation each day and how it felt. If you did not complete one and there is nothing to record, then just write how that felt.
By doing this, after a few days or weeks, you will see what is working or what is not and what might be getting in the way. Hold yourself accountable and remain focused while you figure out why some days it was easier than others to accomplish your intention.
Stay in Alignment
Setting intentions keeps you grounded and in the present moment. Goals are fixed on the future, but if setting goals really works for you, try setting intention along with your goal setting.
To achieve your highest vision of success and stay in alignment with yourself, set intentions around your goals. Just setting a goal is very black or white — you either achieve that goal or you don’t.
Intentions come from a place of wanting to grow and set a precedent for how you want to live and act. The main difference is that intentions are not based on external outcomes and are based off your values.
Accomplishing your goals everyday may not always be achievable, but intentions are flexible and leave room for change and freedom. Intentions are powerful and setting them will allow you to stay in alignment with who you are and how you want to live.
Intentions also serve as a reminder of the bigger picture, along with your personal values. By being intentional you'll show up every day and enjoy the journey as much as the destination, therefore bringing more meaning to everything that you do.