Keeping New Year’s Resolutions Part 3: Intentions vs. Goals
This is the season for intentions, resolutions, goals, ideas, to do's, and everything of that ilk. We want to make things happen, real bad, but we don't quite know how to do that other than putting a name to wanting it really hard. But how to we make it more likely that we'll succeed? What's the difference between an intention and a goal?
An intention is a desire invested with a little motivation. In the picture above, it's the card on the left; wanting to climb that mountain and gearing up to do so. Does it mean you'll actually do it? No. Why? Because there's no accountability, no plan, and no way to judge whether you've succeeded. You could climb the mountain for an hour, call it a day, and technically you've fulfilled your intention.
But we all know that's not what we really meant when we set that intention. What we had in mind was a GOAL. When stated as a goal, we say that our goal is to climb to the top of the mountain, and then climb back down. Or maybe it's just to get to the top and hitch an airlift. But that's ok, as long as we're clear. A goal is the card on the right; a commitment -- an intention with a ring on it.
Even if you don't think what you want to do is as defined as getting to a mountaintop, it is. You say you want to eat better, be kinder, or watch less TV? What does that mean? If you don't set a specific goal, even if it's an easily achievable one, you won't make any progress. Maybe you want to cook three healthy meals a week, or eat salads for lunch? Maybe you want to be say five kind things to people each day, or turn your TV off at 10.
Don't forget that you do want to set a goal that you can achieve. You can always set another one when you get there.