Mike Robbins, writing on Oprah’s blog, explains why it's important to set goals with intention and how to go about it.
In a brief summary, the advice is: in order to be motivated by your own goals, you must recognise the difference between intention, goals and actions. Be clear which is which and have all elements in place. There is an excellent example of how these three work together at the end of the article.
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Most people I know and have worked with over the years have a somewhat funny or disempowered relationship to goal setting for the new year. Whether they're people who spend lots of time and energy creating their New Year's intentions or they decided years ago that they wouldn't bother (since in years past, by mid-January most of them have gone off the rails or out of your mind anyway), I don't know too many people who are genuinely inspired, motivated or empowered by their New Year's resolutions in a sustainable and real way.
Here are some of the main reasons I think you aren't authentically inspired by your goals or empowered to make them happen:
- Your goals are often about fixing what you think is wrong with yourself
- Once you set them, you feel a sense of pressure to make them happen
- You worry that you won't accomplish or achieve what you want, and then you'll feel like a failure
- You don't get the kind of support you really want and need
- You forget that your intentions are designed to support you, not stress you out
- You get too focused on the outcome and forget about the experience
- You allow competition and scarcity to take over
One of the best things you can do to shift your perspective about this and create an empowering relationship to your process of setting goals for this year is to understand some key distinctions: intentions, goals and actions.
- Intentions: Your intentions are states of being and authentic desires. In other words, you may have an intention to be peaceful, grateful, joyous, loving, successful, healthy or wealthy. Your intentions are your high ideals and are usually at the root of your motivation for any of your specific goals. Most people don't really want goals like a new relationship, more money or a fit body simply for the sake of those things themselves. You want them because of what you believe you will experience by having them in your life. By starting with your intentions, you get right to the source of what you truly want. Intentions are the core and the magic of all of your goals and desires.
- Goals: Effective and powerful goals are ones that are specific and measurable. You want to be able to track your progress and know for sure if you are reaching your goals or not. This doesn't have to be a competition (with others or yourself) and doesn't have to be filled with stress, pressure, shame or guilt. Having your goals as specific and measurable just makes them clear and more likely to manifest. And, the paradox you have to always remember when setting and working on your goals is that you can't be attached to the outcome—it will make you crazy and take you off course from your real intentions. Your goals simply take your intentions and focus them on tangible outcomes in the world.
- Actions: Creating action-oriented practices that support manifesting your goals and intentions is an essential daily, weekly and monthly process of your success and fulfillment. Coming up with action plans that inspire you, connect to the goals you're working on and fulfill your intentions is vital to all of this. This is where the rubber meets the road and is often the place where things break down. The breakdown of actions usually has more to do with a lack of support and accountability (which then allows you to let life take over and lose your focus) than it does with any failure or weakness on your part. Having practices that help you take the baby steps needed to manifest your goals and intentions is such an important piece of puzzle.
Here is an example of how this could look in a specific area of life. Let's say you have a desire to make more money. Start with your intention, "My intention is to experience a real sense of abundance, peace and freedom with money and to easily manifest income." Then create a specific, measurable, result-oriented goal. "I will generate $100,000 by December 31, 2010." The next step is to come up with a few related actions/practices. "I will read three or more books this year on manifesting money. I will set up two or more meetings per month to talk to people about new money-making ideas. I will make a plan each month for specific things I can do professionally to increase my income."
The final piece of the process is creating some kind of regular accountability and support structure for this. You can hire a coach, join a mastermind group or create a success/accountability partnership with a friend. Having someone or a group of people you make commitments to and whom you empower to hold you accountable will make all the difference in the world.
Have fun with this. Don't take it or yourself too seriously—it's just life. You're allowed to make mistakes, screw things up and fall down (which everyone does and always will). Be kind to yourself in this process. Remember your intentions (those states of being and authentic desires) are what you're truly after, not the specific outcomes or actions. This will allow you to take the pressure off of yourself, have more fun and trust that things will manifest as they're meant to—especially if you open up and let them show up!
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