“Setting your intention is like drawing an arrow from the quiver of your heart” – Bruce Black
We set goals. We strive to meet them. It’s how we live.
Going back to school, a house on a hill, the corner office, fitting into those skinny jeans, a racing personal best, or saving money. We create challenges and drive toward them, keenly seeking achievement. We feel pride when we accomplish what we set out to do. We are disappointed when we don’t.
After setting a goal, we willingly undertake the effort to reach it. While we expect to work hard and know the path won’t be smooth, we often face unexpected hurdles, speed-bumps and delays, or even straight-up roadblocks on our path to an expected outcome. Those can make our effort more difficult, leading to struggle, doubt, re-evaluation, sometimes re-commitment, sometimes abandonment. (Note: all of these may be valid responses—neither positive or negative—depending on the situation) Even the most goal oriented and focused among us can grow weary when it seems like, despite our best effort, we don’t hit our targets, or, if we got something or somewhere near our target but that doesn’t look or feel like what we expected. How we feel about and respond to this situation depends on the intentions that underlie our goals. It depends on our awareness of our intentions, how aligned our goals are with those intentions, our understanding of what our intentions mean to us, and about the long range power of those intentions to commit us to our goals.
During our training camp a few weeks ago, Pursuit AP team members explored the notion that our pursuit of goals is done in he service of our intentions. This is an important concept that I wanted to share here, beyond the team. If we understand the power of intentions and consciously set, and then remain aware of them, we are more likely to set truly meaningful and fulfilling goals. We will face obstacles with greater resolve, resilience, and understanding, and we’ll be more likely to accept the unexpected and handle it resourcefully. Most importantly, when our goals are intention based, our focus and energy are channeled in such a way that achievement is certain.
So what does intention mean? Definitions of “intention” are many, they range from clinical to spiritual. I like to think of intention as simply a higher purpose or aim that drives our lives; a foundational personal truth that is aligned with our core values. According to Phillip Moffitt, founder of the Life Balance Institute, we set “intentions based on understanding what matters most…and make a commitment to align [our] worldly actions with [our] inner values.”
You can see therefore, why knowing and setting our intentions is prerequisite to setting meaningful goals. As we undertake the work toward our goals then, an on-going awareness of our intentions impacts our engagement with the effort required to achieve our goals. This critical connection with “what matters most” enables us to face head on, the inevitable challenges that arise in pursuit of our goals and to manage them with a more regulated and understanding attitude. Just as we would a consult a compass as we travel along a wooded trail, we can check in with our intentions on the path toward a goal to validate that we are on course to a life lived according to our own truths.
Contrast this with a life lived pursuing goals set based on popular opinion, trends, bets with co-workers, or pressure (real or assumed) from friends and family. Sure, meeting goals like this will feel good inside, and will garner attention from outside. But at what cost? Can achievements reached and celebrated, but that are disconnected from our foundational truths really be a good use of our energy and other resources? How many “out-of-true” goals like this can we stand to endure before our happiness and fulfillment are impacted? The truth is, goals that are disconnected from intention are about as meaningful as a checklist or an inventory. Things get crossed off and you feel a sense of accomplishment, but in a sort of high-calorie low nutrient value kind of way.
So take some time to consider your goals for the upcoming racing season, for this quarter at work, for the coming summer with your family. Confirm that you can see and articulate how your foundational truths are aligned to those goals. Be able to say with confidence that you are directing your energy and focus toward goals that will nourish those intentions. Feel the excitement in your gut and in your heart! Then get ready! Now that you’re set, you’ll work, you’ll fight, you’ll re-assess and re-focus as required. Ultimately you’ll reach those goals. How can you not, when they are so important to the very core of who you are?! And when you do, raise your arms in victory and happiness! Congratulate yourself! You’re achieving the life you intend!