Why You Should Embrace Intentions — Not Goals — For Maximum Success

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There's a great deal of value in taking stock of where you are and where you want to be — and in choosing a milestone date to accomplish something by — there might be a better way to look at goal setting.

Instead of setting hard-and-fast goals, why not create intentions?

There's a difference between goals and intentions, and it might just be the difference between success and failure. 

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There's a significant difference between setting goals and creating intentions.

Goals are precise, quantifiable, and not flexible. For example, "I will lose 20 pounds and win a race," is a goal.

"I will change my diet and exercise habits in order to improve my health," is an intention.

An intention allows more flexibility and has a greater chance of success.

In 2020, we learned the value of flexibility.

If last year taught you anything, it very likely taught you the importance of flexibility in life.

For instance, maybe in 2020, you set a goal of participating in a marathon or visiting a foreign land. Due to circumstances beyond your control, you probably "failed" at achieving both goals.

However, if your intention was to increase your healthy activity or try new things, you could certainly have lived up to your intentions, despite the pandemic and other events of the year that stood in your way.

Another way to describe the flexibility of intentions is to say they are customizable. One size does not have to fit all.

Your idea of embracing a healthier lifestyle would likely include things others don't and vice versa.

Embrace where you are in your journey and where you're going.

It all depends on where you are on your own journey, where you want to go eventually, and what's important to you as an individual.

This means that the same basic intention — to embrace a healthier lifestyle — will look different in different people's lives. But despite these differences, we each live congruently in accordance with our intentions.

How to live in accordance with your intentions.

Now that you have an understanding of why intentions and goals are different and which is more likely to produce success, it's time to discuss "living congruently" with your intentions.

This simply means that having set your intentions for the year, you have to bear that in mind as you make choices in your life so that it reflects your intention.

Taking the example of embracing a healthier lifestyle once again, you can easily see how that would play out in your daily life.

If you are fond of soft drinks, you might drink water — still or sparkling — most of the time. You might change some of your food choices, walk a bit more, or quit smoking.

Living congruently might be a tiny change but you can continue to make these small changes throughout the year. Baby steps count with intentions!

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Goals are also much more specific than intentions.

Let’s say that you set a goal to lose 20 pounds and you achieve that within the first half of the year. Now what?

You've met your goal but as soon as you stop doing what achieved the weight loss, you're likely to revert to old habits.

If your intention was to embrace a healthier lifestyle and you lose 20 pounds, you can carry on embracing the healthier lifestyle all year.

You can note the weight loss and maybe make a few changes to avoid excessive weight loss or to build muscle or maintain your weight, but you are still living congruently.

You are, therefore, maximizing your success for the full year and (probably) beyond.

Refuse to live in guilt.

In our society, people feel guilty when they don’t meet some arbitrary goal they have set for themselves or that others have set for them.

By choosing to focus on your intentions rather than goals, you will free yourself from that guilt.

You choose your intentions, decide what living congruently with those intentions looks like for you, and change things as circumstances dictate or as your preferences change.

There's nobody in charge but you, and you don’t have to feel guilty for making any changes you like.

So, to sum it up, intentions are more flexible, more freeing, and more likely to produce success in many areas of life. Therefore, you will maximize your success by choosing intentions over goals.

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Nancie Barwick is a clinical hypnotherapist, author, speaker, and medical intuitive. For more information on her services, visit her website.