Intentions vs. Goals

When I started building my business two years ago, I was all about goals.

I spent a lot of time researching productivity, trying to find a system that would make me function better, taking the human quirks, needs and emotions out of me so I could move forward quickly.

I did make some good progress, but felt riddled with anxiety and self-doubt as soon as I slowed down and got quiet (so I almost never did).

I was driven by NOT ENOUGH, who is mean I can tell you.

I wasn’t moving fast enough, my life wasn’t good until I reached mysterious goal destination X, after which another one would magically pop up, making me feel behind yet again. “Not enough” was the chorus of my life.

Until one day I woke up really, really tired.

I didn’t know it back then, but I was hungry for a feminine approach to succeeding in life. One that would help me smell the roses along the way and wouldn’t have me thinking about work when I was cozying up in bed with my boyfriend.

Since then, things have radically changed and I’ve filled a medicine bag with feminine wisdom and practical tools to actually live my life while making meaningful progress.

One of the essential pieces in my medicine bag is intentions. They help me stay focused on what I want to create in my life without the side effects of burn out and anxiety that goals used to give me.

So as we’re getting into this, let’s take a closer look at them both.

What’s the difference between an intention and a goal?

This is not just a play with words to put a band-aid on your goals by calling them intentions to make them more inspiring.

Both intentions and goals are statements about what we’d like to create in our lives, so in that sense, they are very similar. It’s the way we go about them that is different, the energy that they have attached to them.

A goal is something you’d like to achieve, something that would move you forward, get you to the life you want.

Goals are more masculine. They have a pushing, striving, now-or-never, go-for-it kinda energy to them.

Sometimes I think of goals as these slave drivers – we set them, empower them, but then they take over and dictate our daily actions, showering us with guilt if we whisper “but I need to slow down and rest today”.

An intention is a simple statement about what we desire, a subtle declaration of focus.

Intentions are feminine. They can be firm & strong, but the way we go about them is much softer, more intuitive.

Intentions give us wiggle room, allow for slow progress and periods of restoration, to tune into our cycles and go with the flow.

Intentions are merely a pointer into the direction we want to go, holding the space for us as we venture off exploring, smiling gently when we stray off course or bump into anxiety.

Intentions are nourishing, kind. So if you’re feeling burnt out by your quest for achievement or can’t even picture a life where you’re not working around your to-do list every day (gasp! living without a measuring stick that tells me what I should be doing? Trusting myself to know what the next step is?), you might want to switch your achievement goals to subtle intentions.

What makes intentions work better for a lot of women? They are usually anchored in how we want to feel.

Just sit down with a pen and in thinking about the next week or month, ask yourself “What do I need?” and start from there. And if all that comes up is “I need a break”, that’s okay too. Rest, self-care, periods of restoration – intentions have room for those.

So nowadays, I only work with intentions. Sometimes they are as tangible as “I’d love to take on two more Wild Women clients”, sometimes it’s something sweet like “I want to create more ease in my life”.

Can you sense the difference? It really lies in how we go about our goals and intentions – goals tend to make us more robotic “I have to function in order to achieve this”. Intentions are more playful, sacred and open to interpretation.

Now you might have guessed this already, but one of them tends to work much better for us women.

Goals have this tendency to have us feel like robots like we have to push through, get there, sacrifice ourselves until we succeed. Not so with intentions. To me, intentions feel more human.

In fact, I am now moving faster than ever before in my life, and I credit that to the feminine tools I’ve learned about marrying where I want to go with taking sweet care of myself in the present.

Iris

Author: Iris

Iris' coaching helps women simplify their daily lives so feel focused and at ease. Her work is inspired by minimalism, habit work, and the psychological knowledge she gained during her BA in Psychology. Her laser-sharp listening skills coupled with her warmth make sure you feel seen as you decipher overwhelm and turn it into clarity. Clients report her sessions leave them feeling inspired, appreciated and "realistically invincible".