Using Goals and Intentions effectively to get what you want.

While traveling recently to visit my son at college I took a wrong turn. Since I’ve done this trip numerous times over the years I had boldly set off without written directions or even a GPS. I was sure I knew the way and scoffed at any suggestion that I should prepare for the trip by printing MapQuest directions or borrowing a friend’s GPS. After all, there weren’t that many turns and I was sure I’d recognize the signs and landmarks as they appeared. I didn’t. It’s been many months since I last did the trip so when the exit sign for 220A appeared, I couldn’t remember if I needed to take it, or if there would be another exit for 220. Making a snap decision I decided to take it and immediately began to wonder if I had done the right thing. Was this going to get me where I wanted to go?

Isn’t that how life is sometimes? We know where we want to go but we don’t do what’s necessary to prepare and thus ensure our success in getting there. Whether we’re overconfident (as I was) or simply naïve in knowing what’s necessary, we sometimes set off without considering how we’re going to get where we want to go.

Goals and intentions are two useful tools to ensure our success. We can think of our intentions like the destination on a trip. We know we want to go to San Francisco, for example. There are lots of ways to get there, though, and goal setting is how we choose our specific route. Many considerations need to be taken into account when choosing the steps, or route, that will best get you to your destination. The steps that are right for you may not be right for someone else. Consulting outside sources, as well as your own inner wisdom, will help you decide which steps will get you where you want to go.

Intentions describe the passion or purpose behind an act or change. They are based on your values and priorities and act as a guiding light to help you navigate your way toward the reality you want to create. They are the what and why that guide and limit your actions or behavior. For example, a fitness intention may be to improve your health so that you feel better and can keep up with your partner or kids.

Goals, on the other hand, define a series of steps required to complete the intention. Goals are the how, when and where of the change you wish to create. In our fitness example, it might be “My goal is to lose 10 lbs, start doing yoga, and clean up my diet.”

Goals are to intentions as driving directions are to a destination. What goals do you need to set today to move toward the destination you want in your health, finances, relationships, or career?

On 220A I decided to contact someone who had access to a map, as well as my son who has driven this route many times. Both confirmed I had taken a wrong turn, however, with the help of road signs I eventually found my way to 220. Detours and wrong turns aren’t the end of the world, but they create uncertainty and angst. With the help of others I got back on track and I learned a lesson that I hopefully won’t forget . The next time I hit the road I will prepare better by consulting a tour book or travel guide to explore the many ways to get to my destination.

When preparing for a life change it’s wise to work with a guide as well. Whether you’re going to San Francisco, a healthier lifestyle, or a new career, carefully choose the steps that will get you there.


Today’s author: Carol Hayes[email protected] or 301-371-7460. Through her company, Clear Choices Coaching, Carol shares her expertise and skill fostering growth in people of all ages. She is especially energized when her coaching helps people experience “breakthrough” moments where they push through their personal edge and grow more fully into the people they want to be. Carol’s certification as a Life and Energy Leadership coach comes from The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC), which is accredited by the International Coaching Federation. She is also a dynamic speaker and workshop leader who facilitates energizing connections with groups of all sizes.