What is the difference between intentions and goals?

To help you define the difference between intentions and goals I have two questions to get you thinking about the nuances of each:-

  1. How do you feel when you've failed to achieve a goal? Cross with yourself perhaps? Frustrated with the things that got in the way and distracted you? Setting a goal can sometimes do that, set you up to seemingly fail.
  2. How do you feel when you live with intention? Happy? Fulfilled? At ease with yourself and the way your life is going?

There are differences to goals and intentions, big differences.

A goal is a destination. A decision is made that a certain task needs to be completed by a certain time. If you are efficient at goal setting, your goal will be SMART and by that I mean specific, measurable, achievable and time orientated. A goal is an external achievement, something outside of yourself that you strive towards. You decide if you've succeeded or failed in achieving your goal, it is a tangible thing.

An intention is not, it is part of your inner world. The first thought towards something, it is secret and within you. It sets the timbre of the energy that you hold when moving towards something you want.

So you could set a goal of - I don't know - um - earning £100k in a year. BUT if you do that without the intention of enjoying the process of discovery and expansion, that year could be filled with stress. Without setting the intention to look at every challenge as an opportunity, or to receive help when it is offered, or to celebrate every small win, the goal may not feel good even if it is achieved.

Think about a dog walk, a dog needs a walk, its owner needs to take him everyday for his wellbeing come rain or shine, snow or thunder. The goal is a daily dog walk. If the owner sets the intention that the dog walk is a time of self reflection, a time of exercise, a time of health for himself and his dog then even if the weather is awful the dog walk will be more than an inconvenient walk in the rain that has to be done.

I'm a great one for setting intentions, and for setting goals for that matter. I like to set goals that are achievable and I like to achieve them being the best I can be in any given moment.

Yesterday was my 50th birthday. Yep.. gulp... I am today in the first day of my next half century, except, surely I'm going to live forever.. energy never dies.. I am energy... OH NO... I'm getting distracted.. that is another blog post!

As I was saying, yesterday was my birthday. I had plans, Stuart, my Man had set the goal of having lunch by the sea. My intention was to smile all day, feel fabulous and go home tired, happy with a feeling of living a day of celebration.

To achieve the goal of having lunch by the sea, we had to get ready reasonably early, you know a guy does this in 10 minutes, or at least my Guy does. It takes me a bit longer, and I don't like to be rushed, I like to be calm and collected and organised. Then once we were on the road we had to drive for 2 hours, we were going to The New Forest with our two dogs, once we'd arrived, Bear and Ruby, our Golden Retriever and our Hungarian Visler needed attention, walking, a dip in the lake and then a rub down, not to mention copious amounts of water and the air conditioning blasting in the car - yesterday was hot for the UK. Then we had to find somewhere to eat, preferably by the sea that accommodates dogs and served fish. All of which we found, and by 3.30pm we were sipping Chablis, eating potted crab and chatting to a couple we had just met in the restaurant. Our lunch turned into one of those life 'moments'. It was memorable, delicious, fun and interesting.

Our day wasn't over, we found a beach, I got out my bikini (yikes!) and we swam in the Solent with the dogs, the sea was bracing and I definitely felt it reminding me that I was alive, the sun was warm and the love felt from our dogs and Stuart palpable.

So, our goal was fulfilled and my intention of smiling, feeling fabulous and going home tired and happy and feeling alive had seeped into everything we did. Even when we got stuck in traffic, as often happens on a sunny bank holiday, I was smiling and thinking how wonderful life was.

The next time you set yourself a goal, do it with intention. An intention that offers you the opportunity to be the best you can be in any given moment.

Love,
Sarah

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Leave a Reply 5 comments

Sashka Hanna-Rappl - 29th August 2017 Reply

I’m not one for setting goals Sarah because I sometimes or rarely achieve them and then as you mentioned, got frustrated and disappointed.
But this description of an intention and goal – just LOVED this!
Thank you for the description and explanation …
Off to set intentions and goals now 🙂 yay!!!

    Sarah - 29th August 2017 Reply

    Yay! Sashka, come back and tell me how your intentions affected the feeling you had whether or not your goal was achieved in the way you first laid out.

Polly Hearsey - 31st August 2017 Reply

I’m definitely guilty of setting goals without intention and intentions without goals – thank you for the wonderful opportunity to reframe that.

Douglas Antrim - 3rd September 2017 Reply

Thank you for this article I really like the analogy you used with the dog walk you are so right. I set lots of goals, because each of my goals is broken down into mini goals. I place each mini goal on a chore sheet, and make them off as I accomplish them.

    Sarah - 8th September 2017 Reply

    Hey Douglas, I’m hoping you celebrate every time you tick off your accomplishments!

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