Why Setting Goals is Only Half the Equation

The Magic Sauce In Achieving Your Goals & Dreams

You know that feeling of creating a list of awesome goals, only to barely make a dent in that list a year later? Or, you scratch off a few goals midway through the year, then fall flat the rest of the year?

Setting goals is something we naturally do. It’s a valuable skill that helps us stay on track and get things done. Whether it’s formally or just in our heads, we typically have a few things on our mind that we want to accomplish in some time period.

But if you’ve ever struggled with HOW to set goals and actually ACHIEVE them, you’re in the right place.

This is Part 1 of a 4 part series on THE MAGIC SAUCE IN ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS & DREAMS.

The New Year is a great time to reflect on the year past and the year ahead. It’s also a great time to plan even further into the future. But oftentimes, it gets overwhelming and the frustrations from goal setting in years past causes a huge block. It then becomes a vicious cycle of goal setting, not achieving, feeling like a failure, trying again, then eventually losing hope in the goal setting process altogether.

So, how do you actually set goals AND achieve them this year?

If you’re feeling lost, frustrated or just want to DO IT BETTER, then you need to relearn what it means to set goals. And I have a little secret for you: setting goals is only half the equation.

“Setting goals without intentions is like driving to a known destination with your eyes closed.”

-Ya Girl, Dani

Yep, that’s right! If you’ve been setting goals without also setting intentions, you’ve been driving around with a blindfold on…. Birdbox style.

What are Intentions?

Intentions are expressions of our inner self, our values and who we aspire to be. They are our constant, guiding principles for who we are and who we wish to be. Intentions guide our daily lives to propel us towards our goals.

If a goal is a future destination, an intention is the fuel to get you there. It’s your roadmap. It’s the gift of sight on your journey. Goals are the destination, and intentions are HOW you get there in your daily life.

If a goal is set in the future, an intention is set in the here and now. Intentions allow you to have success RIGHT NOW, not at some future date. They allow you to feel a sense of accomplishment TODAY. And I don’t know about you, but WINNING on a daily basis seems pretty awesome to me!

If goals can be uncertain, intentions are absolute. You may do everything in your power to achieve a set goal, but something out of your control could derail your effort. Intentions are WHO YOU ARE NOW and who you wish to be tomorrow. They are absolute.

If a goal is specific, an intention is purposefully vague. We are often taught about the importance of S.M.A.R.T. Goals (Small, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound). Goals are meant to be specific. Intentions, on the other hand, are intentionally (see what I did there?) left vague. They don’t need to make sense to the masses. They only need to ring true FOR YOU. They aren’t an item to be checked off a list.

If a goal is about an outcome, an intention is about HEART. The intention is the feeling and emotion, while the goal is the desired outcome. Your goal may to implement a brand new nutrition plan, but your intention is to feel healthy. See the difference?

Why are Intentions Important?

Intentions give us the gift of sight on our journey towards our goals. Without them, we don’t have a clear path forward. You can create plenty of specific goal crushing strategies and they may actually pan out. But what we’ve found over the years is that those specific goal strategies often don’t leave room for LIFE to happen.

Inevitably, you will fail to reach a goal, even with the best laid plans, and it often leads to feelings of failure. That’s where intentions come in.

Intentions center your efforts. They align your drive towards your goal with your core values.

Who are you? Who do you wish to be? What is important to you in life?

Intentions make space for LIFE to happen. If you don’t end up reaching a goal, intentions are your constant, guiding force. They serve as a feedback loop. Maybe your goal was too lofty for the timeframe chosen. Maybe your goal needs to be reworked. Maybe that goal doesn’t align with who you are or who you want to be?

This feedback loop is CRUCIAL in your momentum forward. It allows you to reassess the goals you set. More importantly, it curbs that feeling of intrinsic failure if you happen to not reach your goal. Rather than throw a hissy, get down on yourself or vow to never again set goals so you don’t disappoint yourself, those intentions are your TRUE NORTH. If you are living by them and you feel connected, aligned and SUPER BADASS, then how did you fail? Reassess those goals. Maybe the problem isn’t that you “failed.” Maybe the problem is your expectations.

Maybe, just maybe, you didn’t fail at all. This could be just the opportunity you needed to grow.

How to Set Intentions

So, intentions sound pretty fab, yes?! I KNOW! But when we first started understanding intention, it felt so vague. Too abstract. I was anxious I wasn’t going to do it right! Hello, Perfectionist. Calm yourself, boo.

Intentions should be set with your core values in mind. Think about the areas of your life that you wish to improve, cultivate or nurture.

For starters, begin pondering these questions to create your own intentions:

  • What matters most to you?

  • What brings you joy?

  • What do you want to manifest, create, build, nurture in your life?

  • What do you need to let go of?

  • What truly doesn’t serve you?

  • What would make you feel aligned with your true self?

  • What are you grateful for?

  • What makes you feel vulnerable?

  • What makes you feel powerful?

  • How do you want to feel?

Write what comes to mind! Don’t overthink it, my Perfectionists! Just write it down. A napkin, square of toilet paper, post it, note on your phone, super sweet leather bound journal… whatever! Physically write this down.

“Intentions compressed into words enfold magical power.”
~Deepak Chopra

Next, use those thought-sparkers to create your intentions. Forget about any specific goals right now.

This is intention time. Give her some space.

Here are a few general intentions to pull from:

  • I want to find balance.

  • I want to feel healthy in my own skin.

  • I want to nourish my body and/or my soul.

  • I want to stay present.

  • I want to be grateful.

  • I want to act with courage.

  • I want to banish shame from my life.

  • I want to be vulnerable.

  • I want to have an open mind and an open heart.

  • I want to be physically strong.

  • I want to be mentally resilient.

  • I want to connect deeply with others.

  • I want to practice patience.

Keep them positive. Avoid using phrases like, “I don’t want to snap at my kids all the time.” Instead, turn that into an affirmative intention: I want to practice patience with my children.

Read over your thought-sparkers and marry those with your intentions. Write them down. You know the drill. I promise the act of writing this out will create a sense of ownership, excitement and joy. Leaving all this in your head serves no purpose.

Woo Woo as it sounds (not even sorry), your intentions deserve to be out in the material world. Take them from you unconscious and bring them into the conscious, present moment.

Combining Intentions with Goals: Beautiful Alchemy

Alchemy is a magical process of transformation, creation and/or combination. 

The magic is in combining your intentions WITH your goals. That, my dear ones, IS ALCHEMY. And it’s a powerful process that transforms the sum of the ingredients into something far greater than you could have imagined.

On the same sheet of paper (post it, toilet paper, phone note, beautiful journal page) start jotting down your S.M.A.R.T. goals! Small, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound.

Maybe you want to lose weight because your blood sugar is approaching diabetic levels. Maybe you want to begin working out, even if you have no experience to pull from. Maybe you want to realign your goals with your present situation because you’ve felt some “burnout” from the previous year. Maybe you want to be more financially stable. Maybe you want to launch your new business venture.

The possibilities are ENDLESS. What is your future destination?

Now, write each goal with an accompanying intention you identified above, like this:

Goal: I will implement yoga into my exercise routine 2x/week.

Intention: I want to feel strong, flexible and mentally aligned.

Goal: I will begin eating whole, nutrient dense foods 80% of the time.

Intention: I want to feel well and healthy.

Goal: I will meditate 5x/week.

Intention: I want to feel mental clarity, less anxiety and connection with my intuition.

Goal: I will not use my phone during designated family time.

Intention: I want to stay present.

Do you see how my goals align with my intentions? This serves several powerful purposes.

First, you can visually see each goal connected with your intentions and your core values. We already know that goals in alignment with your core values and intentions are far more powerful than goals set arbitrarily.

Second, this alignment of goal and intention deeply embeds the two in my conscious AND unconscious mind. This is essential in forming the very habits that will allow you to accomplish your newly set intentions and goals. Your conscious mind will be in charge of setting these new habits in motion. On the other hand, your subconscious mind will be in charge of taking over these “semi-automatic” behaviors and thought patterns once the habits begin to become ROUTINE.

This is VERY POWERFUL STUFF, friends. Taking your intentions and goals from paper, to beginning action, to daily routines/rituals/habits is the STUFF OF MAGIC. It’s not enough to simply write it down. Now, you must LIVE it daily.

But how do I live my intentions each day so I can reach my goals?

Stay tuned for Part 2: How to Actually Live Your Intentions In Pursuit of Your Goals.