I get asked this question a bit. It seems to be a source of confusion, often because the two terms are used interchangeably…when actually they are two different things.
Any goal setting framework will tell you that a goal must be specific and measurable. The measurable part means that the goal will usually include a quantity or a timeline, or both. For example, a goal may be to do two household tasks. Or do household tasks for two hours. Or do two household tasks in two hours. Each of these examples are specific and measurable. There is a way of determining whether you’ve achieved the goal or not.
An intention on the other hand is a point of focus. While it may include a timeframe, the time is less important than the actual point of focus. For example, an intention may be to use less single use plastics this year, or to increase your energy levels, or have more time with the kids. While there are timeframes or quantities in these examples – it’s up to you to determine what this is. Having a point of focus means your mind is open to the opportunities that present themselves to make that intention happen. For example, you may become aware of all the parts of your life that use single-use plastic – and alternatives available on the market. You may become aware of when your energy is lower or higher and start to observe choices you can make to increase your energy: perhaps a dietary change, a visit to the doctor, adding a daily walk to your routine, or improving your sleep habits. The intention creates the focus, which implements increased awareness for opportunities.
Both goals and intentions are useful in creating or navigating change because they keep you on track for changing habits and introducing a new direction in your life. Some people prefer goals because they like a specific thing to work towards. Other people prefer intentions because it takes the pressure off and they still find they are productive in achieving the purpose of their intention. Some instances can use both. Your intention may be to have more time with the kids, so you might set a goal of a total of half an hour of one-on-one time with each of your kids this week. The goal is specific: you can measure it. Holding your intention of more time with the kids increases your awareness of the opportunities to grab 10 or 15 minutes where you can, or to rearrange your chores so you can max out and have a whole half-day with them!
This week, use a goal or an intention to implement change in your life. If you usually use goals, try incorporating intentions, and vice-versa. Experiment till you find what works best for you.
Leave a comment below and let me know how you went!
Have a great week and thanks for reading,
Life experience has taught me a lot about change - its messiness and my desire to circumnavigate it in a more efficient way. In this blog I share my experience so you too can survive change with a smile on your face!