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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 October 22, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed, and exhausted. Therefore, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s time to do something about it.

Here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm, leaving you calmer, in control, and a lot less stressed at work.

1. Write Everything Down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when work feels overwhelming is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s occupying your thoughts[1].

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind, write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind.”

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will help you stop feeling overwhelmed at work. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have emptied your head, go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. You can learn how to create a more meaningful to-do list here.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago to help when work feels overwhelming. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and we humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take[2]:

When feeling overwhelmed at work, use Parkinson's Law.

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad. It’s more wishful thinking than bad judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage when we’re feeling overwhelmed at work. If you have estimated that to write five important emails will take ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is that you put yourself under a little time pressure, and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time, so it plays tricks on us, and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our team members to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening, and we get more focused and more work done. This will help when work feels overwhelming.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos to avoid getting overwhelmed at work. Schedule time for each task, especially high priority tasks, while also grouping together similar tasks. This will help relieve stress and anxiety in your daily work life.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done, and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer, and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one[3]. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend, or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss or a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away and will only make you feel more overwhelmed at work. You need to make a decision to deal with it, and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved.

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed, and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend about the problem.

    He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem, and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I pay a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first was: don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second: there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we are feeling overwhelmed at work (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

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    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

    It also means that, rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible, and you can make decisions about what to do about them.

    Often, it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be that you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    When work feels overwhelming, it’s not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work. It can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    It’s easy to feel like you have too much on your plate, but there are things you do to make it more manageable. 

    Make a decision, even if it’s just talking to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution.

    When you follow these strategies, you can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Josefa nDiaz via unsplash.com

    Reference

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