Goal setting is a valuable skill that helps us stay on track and get things done.   They are essential for completing tasks.  We set goals such as developing a new business skill, learning a new hobby or cleaning the garage.   The question becomes, are you going to fulfill your goal?  Will you be a success or not?  Will you be happy once you reach the goal?   Will you set another goal or feel like a failure if the goal is not reached?

Goals, while moving us toward what we say we want, can take us out of the moment and create a feeling that what we have isn’t enough.  A background feeling of unease can come over us if our goal-oriented life discounts our present moment.  In short, while goals can move us forward, we can also feel victimized by constant goal setting.

Living your intentions, on the other hand, is much different than having a goal-oriented focus. Being intentional allows you to focus on how you want to be in the moment, independent of whether you are winning or losing.  Allowing intentions to guide your moment to moment focus, means you are living your values and what matters most to you.

Focusing on your intentions does not mean you give up your goals or desire for achievement.   By partnering goals with intentions you will become one of the few people in life who enjoy the journey as much as the destination.  Here are three differences between goal setting and intentions:

  1. Goals are focused on the future.  Intentions are in the present moment.
  2. Goals are a destination or specific achievement.  Intentions are lived each day, independent of reaching the goal or destination.
  3. Goals are external achievements.  Intentions are your inner-relationships with yourself and others.

A metaphor may help make this distinction.   We live in the Pacific Northwest with many wonderful day hikes that allow spectacular views.   Our goal may be to hike to the top of a small mountain and wish to see the extraordinary view from the summit.  It’s a worthy goal that gets us excited and motivates us to schedule the hike.

Before we begin the hike, we set our intention to be present to the sights and smells along the trail, noticing the beauty of the plants and unexpected vistas with each twist in the trail.  Even if the Northwest fog unexpectedly rolls in, our intention to enjoy one another and nature’s beauty can be fulfilled.  We return home not feeling victimized by not reaching our goal but, as Creators, fulfilling our intention.