• Fern Lee

Setting intentions vs setting goals

Updated: Nov 1, 2019

Setting goals has always been a difficult one for me. I got obsessive about them which inevitably burned me out before I fulfilled my goal.

I had an epiphany the other day - instead of setting a goal, I would set an intention. Immediately I felt lighter and happier. The pressure wasn't 'on' and I didn't feel like I needed to be constantly working towards the goal.

To me, the word 'goal' had connotations of restriction, pain, and joylessness. Every time I set a goal, I was working at warp speed to get it achieved. I realized that I needed a better way to work towards my dreams if I was going to prevent burn-out.

Setting intentions was more like opening up to the possibilities that the universe was offering me. I don't feel less committed, just more positive about how things could unfold if I just let it. I would still work hard but I wasn't controlling every aspect of it. I could do my part, and let the parts that I couldn't control unfold in its own time.

Setting goals just made it seem like I needed to control every aspect of my journey, even when I knew I couldn't. The end purpose was the key, not the journey itself.

For example, I would say, "I am setting an intention to get published." Rather than saying "I want to get published."

The former statement felt rather gentle as opposed to the second one which was so needy and desperate and controlling.

I felt that with setting intentions if I didn't check a box off my to-do list, I didn't feel too bad. I had intended to do it but things had gotten in the way. It wasn't the end of the world; I could always get to it the next day. I didn't have control over everything. I couldn't have and I recognise it.

For example, I would say, "I am setting an intention to get published." Rather than saying "I want to get published."

Setting intentions also meant that I wasn't beholden to that intention. I was just setting an intention; I could always change it.

Whereas with a goal, I felt it became set in stone; I needed to achieve it like yesterday and I was already falling behind even before I had begun.

I have a type-A personality so this might be something that would not work for everybody. As a type-A, I was always on the go 110% of the time. I realized that I needed to pull back some of my type A traits in order to survive or else I was going to burn out.

I noticed that changing my language and mindset was key to helping me relax. Realizing that it was a marathon and not a sprint was also important. I had to manage my expectations and understand that deadlines were artificial and I had to roll with the punches, should anything unexpected interrupted my workflow.

If you are working towards a promotion or finding a new job or even a new business idea, know that things will happen, but not immediately. That you need to pace yourself and to keep going, even when the chips are down.

Sometimes, being steady is the way to go.

Have something to say? Drop a comment below! I'd love to hear from you.




©2019 by Fern Lee Career Coaching