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Last Updated on December 16, 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”.

Check out Jade’s video on Goal vs Intention to learn more about this topic:

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 May 5, 2021

How to Achieve Goals and Increase Your Chance of Success

How to Achieve Goals and Increase Your Chance of Success

Does it ever feel like the things you want to accomplish always end up on the back burner? If the answer to that question is yes, you’re not alone. Only about 33% of people consistently work toward and achieve goals that they set. In some cases, their goals may seem too lofty to accomplish, or else they aren’t sure how to make a plan for them.

If you don’t come up with concrete steps to take toward your goals, they’ll remain dreams. There’s nothing wrong with being a dreamer, but being able to turn your dreams into goals will help you lead a happier and more fulfilling life.

Luckily, you can realize almost any dream when you harness the right goal-setting methods.

1. Break Dreams Down Into Measurable Steps

We can’t talk about how to set and achieve goals without mentioning SMART goals.

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based.

Specific and measurable steps are extremely important because if we don’t know what our target is, how can we ever hit it?

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Take all those beautiful dreams you have for yourself and make them into things you can actually do. If you want to be an entrepreneur, for example, a step toward realizing your dream might be researching what you’ll need to start your business.

Find out more tips about utilizing SMART goals here: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

2. Have One Clear Goal for Each Area of Your Life

It’s so easy to become complacent or stagnate. We often think that our careers are the only places where we need to set goals, but there are many other areas of our lives that could benefit from specific goals.

To make the most of your life, take the approach that you’re always learning and growing in everything you do. Anything worth doing is worth doing well after all.

Set goals whether you’re sponsoring an activity for your child, taking up guitar lessons, or trying to prove your worth at work.

You’ll notice that this approach forces you to constantly develop new skills. It can also be fulfilling to put more focus and value into all areas of your life—not just the ones related to our careers.

3. Align Your Goals With Your Purpose and Passion

Take the opportunity to do some soul-searching as you’re working on how to achieve goals you’ve set. What is it that you want to do with this precious life of yours?

Anything that conflicts with your life’s purpose is bound to cause discontent. Staying in a bad relationship, doing a job that goes against your values, or maintaining the status quo just because it’s comfortable are not options for you.

Thinking about your goals in this way can help you eliminate things in your life that don’t serve you. This frees up mental space that you can use to do the things you care about the most.

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Many of us struggle to find the time to work on our goals, but this strategy enables you to make more time.

4. Create Goals That Inspire Action

If you can’t be fired up about learning how to achieve goals from the start, they might not be good goals for you.

The road to success is often tough, and you’re going to have times when you might feel tired or discouraged. You need to feel inspired enough that you’ll be able to overcome obstacles as you encounter them.

If what you’re doing motivates you to be the greatest version of yourself, you’ll be much more resilient.

5. Write Down Goals in Detail

This is your road map for what success will look like. The more you define what you want the finished product to be, the greater the chance that you’ll reach that vision.

When you write down your goals, you’re creating a document that you can revisit to make sure you’re on track.

When you’re in the middle of achieving goals, it can be hard to see what’s working for you. The things you write in this step will help you stay on-message as you take your goals out of your mind and into the real world.

Don’t just write down your goals and stash them away in a folder somewhere. Take the extra step to put them somewhere where you’ll see them.

If you have too many goals to post on your desk, write a summary or choose one or two steps to work on for the day. Just seeing them will keep them in the front of your mind.

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6. Commit to Hitting Each Target

You wouldn’t have created the target if you didn’t think it was necessary. Hold yourself accountable for taking the steps to succeed and achieve goals.

You can always adapt your strategy or break your targets into smaller steps if you find that they aren’t attainable as you originally wrote them. Hitting even the smallest target is cause for a celebration. It’s a step in the positive direction, and your success will make you crave more success.

We often make excuses when we get tired or overwhelmed. Take away the option to make excuses. You will only be satisfied with the best effort from yourself.

If you do find that you start making excuses and procrastinating, this Fast-Track Class from Lifehack can help: No More Procrastination.

7. Share Your Goals With Others

There’s something so powerful about people sharing their goals and dreams with one another. Doing so gives voice to some part of us that could remain hidden (and therefore never be accomplished).

When other people know about your goals, they can cheer you on and hold you accountable. When people share their vision with you, you can do the same for them.

This strategy is particularly beneficial when you’re trying to develop healthy habits. Post about your workout on social media, or do a healthy eating challenge with your best friend. You’ll be less likely to slack when temptation arises, and you’ll probably encourage someone else to reach for their goals, too.

8. Set a Series of Goals With Deadlines

Many people don’t achieve goals simply because they haven’t taken the time to measure them. People tend to forget what they set out to do, or their goal gets crowded out by other obligations.

Forcing yourself to revisit your goals at regular intervals breaks them into smaller steps, and it reminds you to think about them.

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Giving yourself regular deadlines for smaller tasks related to your goals also helps you reflect on your strategy. You’ll figure out what works for you, whether your timeline is realistic, and whether or not you need additional help to stay on track.

9. Take 10 Minutes Each Day to Visualize Success

Some of the most successful athletes, celebrities and business people take time each day to think about how success looks and feels for them.[1] Imagining that feeling of satisfaction can be a great motivator.

When you do meet your goals, take some time to be grateful. Thank yourself for showing up and doing the work. Be grateful when the stars align properly to help you advance to the next step.

It’s not just getting to the destination of your goals that matters. How you go through the journey is important, too.

10. Take One Step Toward Your Goals Each Day

Your goals can easily get buried in the hustle and bustle. Even the smallest step in the right direction is still moving you forward.

Keep chipping away at the work every day, and before long, you’ll start to see those dreams come to life.

Maybe you didn’t start your business today, but you designed the logo that’s going to go on your website and business cards. Concrete actions day by day draw your dreams out of obscurity and into the realm of possibility.

The Bottom Line

Dreams can leave us feeling overwhelmed while also inspiring us to be better in the long term. By turning our dreams into goals that we can work toward, we increase our chances of success. Things that once seemed impossible are suddenly within reach, and before long, we know how to achieve goals that matter to us.

It’s time to start turning your dreams into big goals and your goals into reality.

More on How to Achieve Goals

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