Set intentions, not goals

Shauna Heathman
Shauna Heathman

by Shauna Mackenzie.

You’re at point A. You know what point B looks like and even what it may feel like. But the in-between -- the getting to point B from point A -- is the hard part. How is it possible to have such a distinct vision of your prospective future, but the path is such a blur?

I launched my company in 2007, starting at point A.  As any entrepreneur or self-starting individual knows, you typically don’t have all the answers up front. When you set out to do something with a sense of passion and determination, the path doesn’t matter as long as you have the ability to visualize point B. This intention to do something, to be something, to end up in a more positive place, is ten times more powerful when you do have that distinct vision of the future.

My first few months in business, I filled an entire notebook of ideas, notes, and brainstorming scribbles and then filed it away. Two years later, I came across it as I packed for a move. I flipped through the pages of those “point A” moments of my life and while most of the memories of those notes were reminiscent, others were completely forgotten; like the second to last page of the notebook. At the top of this page it read, “My professional life in April 2009.” Following the header, there were bullet points after bullet points of intentions for the next two years. I had outlined exactly what my professional life looked like two years after inception. I was stunned as I read them. Finding this forgotten page of intentions was not the biggest surprise, however. I found that out of 43 items listed on that page, by August, every single thing except for one had been accomplished.

It wasn’t until earlier this year that this idea of setting intentions really came full circle. A speaker at a workshop I attended shared with us the idea of setting intentions rather than goals. A goal is not the same as intention, she explained. A goal is an aim, a desired result. An intention, however, is one’s purpose or a design for a particular end. Setting intentions allows you to feel the success even if it hasn’t tangibly happened yet. The bullet points on that page of my notebook were not written as if I didn’t have them; they were written as if they already existed. They were intentions that allowed me to be okay with the in-between haze of point A and point B.

I encourage you to convert your goals into intentions. Write them down to help you visualize your point B, whatever that may be. The stress of the unknown path will start to fade as you step into your intentions and live them on a daily basis. No need to force the faith, because faith in the result comes naturally when your intentions are genuine.

What sort of intentions do you set for yourself? Have you noticed a difference in outcome when you’ve set intentions rather than goals?

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