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Published on June 25, 2020

Intentions Vs Goals: What’s The Difference?

Intentions Vs Goals: What’s The Difference?

If this is your first time jumping into learning about goal setting, one important thing to take note of is intentions vs goals. It’s an aspect that many people struggle with, especially if you are the type of person who sets New Year resolutions every year and ends up giving up on them in the coming months.

Knowing the relationship and differences between these aspects will allow you to better identify what is an intention and what is a goal for you.

Furthermore, understanding these can allow you to better leverage them on your path to greater success.

What Are the Differences Between Intentions vs Goals?

Before jumping into the key differences, you need to understand that both intentions and goals are good for you. Both have clear advantages and disadvantages to one another.

That said, only one of these two is going to help you see real change in your life, and that being your goals.

I’ll get into detail why that’s the case further down this post, but for now, knowing the differences between these two will save you a lot of struggle in the future.

Their Descriptions

The first thing to note is how you can describe each one since there are some notable differences between intentions vs goals.

Goals can be best described as the results that you are looking for. It’s the result of something that you’ve put together based on your thought process.

On the other hand, intentions are more or less the energy that you put in at the very start of something. It’s not quite like motivation, but it is your overall willingness to do something.

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To see this in action, an intention can be along the lines of telling yourself “I want to lose weight,” or “I will be a better partner for my spouse.” Goals are the specific actions that you’ll be taking to lose weight and build a better relationship with your partner.

Their Timing

Another key difference between these two is their timing – as in what times they are referring to. From the example mentioned above, you can already piece together where goals and intentions lie.

Intentions are concerned about the present moment in your life. It’s relying on how you feel right now.

Goals are future projections. These are things that you want to achieve at some point. You can achieve that when you put enough energy into taking action to achieve your goals.

What They Prioritize

The third difference is what each one cares about and allows you to prioritize.

When you are setting a goal, the emphasis is placed on the result and the journey along the way. You’ll focus on the milestones that you placed out and assess the results that you’ve received thus far and the final results, too.

Another way to look at it is that goals prioritize external achievements.

Intentions prioritize the emotions that you are feeling. Yes, that’s part of the journey as well, but intentions dig deeper. They prioritize the relationship that you have with yourself and the task at hand.

Difference in Scope

The fourth and final difference to bring up is the scope of these two aspects. The scope shapes how you set them in the first place.

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When it comes to intentions, there are broad aspects and how you form them varies from person to person. Generally speaking though, intentions are designed to be vague. They’re phrases that mention a general result or maybe it’s a single word. Examples are ones mentioned earlier or using keywords like “growth”, “love”, or “patience”.

Goals are the actions, the expectations, and the results you want to achieve. As such, these are narrow. If you want to have more patience, a goal would be something like meditating for a period of time or trying not to interrupt people.

Which One Is Better for Success?

If we are to look at these two by themselves, there is a clear winner between which one will lead you to success, and that is setting goals.

Another way to see goals is the manifestation of your intentions into a more concrete plan. With goals, you want to achieve things, and you’ll be putting more thought into them. You’ll be talking about how you’ll get there and how you’ll measure your results.

Intentions are vague and focus on the immediate short-term. It’s easy to have intentions in your life, but these don’t lead to action. Or if they do, people lose motivation.

Don’t get me wrong, intentions are strong on an emotional front as they can bring more satisfaction to completing goals. [1] This can be used as extra motivation at the beginning as you are determining your impulses and drives to complete your goal.[2]

But with this in mind, it stands to reason that instead of focusing on one over the other, it might be worth considering striking a balance between the two of them.

Why Combine Them?

Another angle to look at intentions vs goals is that goals are what you want to be doing in your life. Intentions are the aspects that you want to be. These are both very strong desires in ourselves as both goals and intentions impact us on an emotional level.

By itself, a goal could manage well on its own. But time and again, people run into problems after achieving goals. There are so many cases where people feel empty, even after finishing a big goal.[3]

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There is also the dreaded question of “what’s next?” A question that many people struggle to answer.

That changes entirely when you already have an intention in place. It’s not something that directly drives you forward, but it can serve as training wheels so you don’t fall off the path.

After you complete a goal, it makes sense that you go back to your intentions and begin to deepen your relationship with what has transpired and with yourself. By doing this, you are also figuring out where you want to go next. This is the case since your intentions aren’t going to be shifting a whole lot.

If your intention is to grow, then what does growth look like?

There are many ways that a person can grow beyond mindset development – growth in wealth, physical capabilities, communication, and more.

How to Best Leverage This

The best way to leverage this relationship is by first starting with an intention. To get the most out of it, it pays to start with a broad intention and sticking to a single word to manifest that intention.

I used examples like love, growth, and patience, and these are great starts. After all, there are many approaches that you can take with these, so having many options that resonate with you will help.

After that, you will want to go through the goal-setting process. When it comes to goal-setting, there is no wrong method as authors have written hundreds of books on the subject. Go for a method that suits you best.

From there, you want to be striving to achieve your goal and remind yourself of your intention. You can use it in a sense as an affirmation by this point.

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For example, if your goal is to grow on social media, your intention can be something like “I will post moving content that engages my audience.”

The intention can help you as you can look at your efforts and match that with how you are feeling. Look at the post you made or the work you’ve done, and ask yourself whether this is something that makes you happy or you could do better for next time.

In a sense, you can use your intentions to be setting SMARTER goals and relying on it during the ER steps, which are “evaluate” and “reassess your goal”.

Final Thoughts

All by themselves, goals are the superior way to achieve success. There are many possibilities and systems in place that can replace intentions entirely

That being said, if you are setting intentions in the first place, you can put further emotions into your work and establish deeper connections.

These deeper connections can allow you to keep building your habit further and further until it becomes your second nature. As such, intentions are worth considering as a compliment to your goal setting system for success.

More on Goals and Intentions

Featured photo credit: Bookblock via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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