The new year is here (or almost here depending on where you are in the world), and you are feeling apathetic about creating goals for 2020. Or, you are sick of people asking what your goals are. Or worse, you are tired of setting up goals for the coming year and failing to achieve them (Sometimes giving up during the first week of the year!). Nothing could feel worse than this.
I have been there and emphasize.
“What are your goals for 2020?” “Did you create a list of New Year’s resolutions?” “Are you going to the gym on Jan 1st to start the new year with a bang?” Oh stop already! Shut up already, right?
Blah, blah, blah…
Here’s the hard truth: goals give us direction and purpose but they do not always make us happy. Read that again: goals give us direction and purpose but they do not always make us happy. So, then what?
Throughout my various decades of living with lots of trial and error including elation, misery, and everything in between, I have learned that without intent, goals do not make us happy, they do not ultimately satisfy, they do not bring joy, and we feel flat and discouraged.
What is Intent
According to dictionary.com, the word intent is defined as “the state of a person’s mind that directs his or her actions towards a specific object.” Intent is also defined as “meaning or significance.” The origin of this word, intent, was first recorded in Middle English (1175–1225). It is from Late Latin intentus “an aim or purpose,” and from Latin intentus “a stretching out.” Intending is directing your mind towards a path that gives your life meaning. It is the mindset that comes before setting your goals. An intent can be used for a life goal, a goal for the day, the week, the month, or the coming year. For the purposes of this blog, I will explain how to create an intent for the new year.
Why an Intent
We all seek and want to have meaning in our lives, but sometimes we fall short. Have you ever set a goal and not accomplished it? Or when was the last time you gave up on your goals when things got tough and then beat yourself up later? We have all been there. I believe that when we give up on our goals, it is because we did not set a personal intent. Our intent is the first step in accomplishing what we want.
If we ponder what the deeper meaning is behind what we do, we will survive the challenges that life throws at us. When things become difficult and we are tempted to quit, we will muster up our resilience and do whatever we need to do to make it happen. If we set an intention for the year, for example, we will not give up because we know the meaning behind the action. We will not give up because we know that every small thing we need to do to reach our goals contributes to a higher purpose.
How to Form an Intent
Consider what you believe, what you stand for, what you love, what you value, what you appreciate, what you see in the world that you think needs to improve, what you despise, or what makes you come alive to set your intent. Ponder, meditate, or journal about it. Does anything stand out to you? For example, my intent for 2020 and the coming decade is to inspire authentic transformation in others for a more compassionate world. This is my intention, my BIG picture and the reason why I get out of bed in the morning. Our world is very troubled, and I believe, together, we can improve it. So, based on my personal intent, my main goal for 2020 is to grow my business to a full-time status so I can inspire and teach on a bigger level. Make sense?
How to Take Action on an Intent
Taking action on an intent is where our goals come in. Yes, I mentioned the G word, “goals.” Here is a short process on how to achieve your dreams based on your intent. Remember that an intent precedes your goals: it is what gets you up in the morning and dictates what you will do each day.
- Decide what your intent is. Write it down and put it somewhere where you can see it every day: add it to your cell phone, iPad, laptop, mirror, wall, journal, or anywhere you will see it. Let it be an encouraging reminder for you daily!
- Ponder how you want to achieve that intent. This might take some time, so be patient with yourself, and give yourself time to truly consider it. What are your strengths, what do you love to do, what would you love to learn, or what do enjoy doing that you would do without getting paid? What could you do that would best make your intent a reality? You might go back to school, start a business, become a long distance runner, open a community center, become a philanthropist, start a Meetup, etc. The list is endless but specific for you.
- Decide how you will make your goals a reality. This is, in my opinion, the most challenging part. Brainstorm some main things that need to happen for you to accomplish your goals WITH your intent in mind. It is important to focus on your intent, so you are excited when writing down the major steps needed to accomplish your dreams. For example, if you want to start a dog-walking business in 2020, I would list something like this: decide on a name for the company, create a website, research established dog walkers and how they do business, learn how to run a business, etc. Depending on your level of experience or knowledge, these are major projects that will require some time to accomplish. Once you have these written down, you can proceed to step four.
- Break down your main goals into smaller tasks that you can accomplish daily. You could even just do ONE task a day, and you will get closer to reaching your ultimate goal. For example, to start the dog walking business, you could list what needs to be done to research other dog walking businesses: do a google search, visit your local Chamber of Commerce, ask your local community center if they know anyone in the business, read blogs or articles about the dog walking business. You get the picture! Every task will bring you closer to your goals. What is important is knowing that every task contributes to deeper meaning in your life (your intent).
- Do not give up when things become tough. Notice I said “when” and not “if.” You will experience resistance of some sort (we all do) because you are growing, and with growth comes some difficulty. Remember your intent for your week, month, year, or even decade and you will have the strength to proceed despite some obstacles. Some goals might take longer than you anticipated, and this is okay. It happens. If you have a clear intent, you will eventually succeed. Go for it!
Resolutions, especially for the upcoming year, usually fall by the wayside. Intent is a state of mind that directs your actions towards a specific object, to a specific dream life, if you wish. Learn to create intent, follow that intent with specific goals, and be mindful of your intent every day. If you do, you will accomplish great things. Your life will matter. Your life will shine.
Happy 2020 and the years beyond.