You may have heard that it’s crucial it is to set intentions, goals, and targets. But do you know why it’s so crucial?
Powerful goals electrify us. Clear intentions energize, give us direction and pull us forward. Without a clear-cut intention, we operate from a place of being reactive and don’t get around to doing the important things especially when we want them done. Instead, we spend our time fighting the many random fires of distraction. Without clear intentions, anything might happen. And usually does.
Think of intentions like the steering wheel on your car. An intention’s whole purpose is to give you control and direction over where you’re heading or said another way what you’re after. The metaphor I like best is the one of finding my car keys, this helps me realize the importance of intentions. I find my keys when I’m looking for them maybe you do too. Now, it’s good to have intentions at more than one level. When we get up into the more conceptual intentions, such as “I will contribute to the wellbeing of those around me,” these become like a mission statement. Ben Franklin shared in his daily routine one of his primary intentions that he set every day, Ol’ Ben would ask himself of a morning, “What good can I do today?” and then at the end of every day he would check in with himself and ask “What good did I do today?”
Author, Brenden Burchard, writes in his recent best selling book, “High-Performance Habits” that life is a series of transitions. We are busy going from meeting to meeting and role to role all day almost every day. He surmises that the better a person can manage those daily transitions, the higher their performance will be. It’s important to set intentions for yourself because this is where the rubber meets the road. Setting your intention for how you will feel (emotionally) during an upcoming meeting or interaction is a great way to manage the transitions better. Instead of letting the flow or even the outcome of a meeting determine your feeling, you determine it in advance.
When you can and you should get in the habit of writing them down on paper, someplace you can trust. The benefit is when you list them out in writing on paper, you can clearly look over your results afterward and check yourself. At the end of today or this time next week, did you do what you said you’d do? Expressed like that, it’s clear that we’re building a kind of internal integrity check within ourselves. When you’re first starting to build this new intention-setting skill (habit), it’s important not to pile on too much. Sure, it’s easy to get all excited about turning over a new leaf, but it’s essential that you start where you are NOW, not where you think you SHOULD be.
There are things that, from experience, you already know you can do. Set your intentions to do those things (plus perhaps a little bit more) and achieve them. Then, when you’re comfortable doing what you say you’ll do, then you can begin to stretch your intention muscles a little more. But as in any new regimen, begin easy. Begin with what you can actually do. And only after you get comfortable with the intention-setting process should you start going for a stretch and for some real growth. Patience – taking small, measured steps – is more than a virtue here. It’s the key to keeping yourself moving forward. (Notice I said patience, not procrastination.)
Attempt too much too soon, and the end result will be another round of demotivation and discouragement. Instead, go about this logically and gradually: keep your eye on the level you want to reach next year, and let today’s effort take you 1/365th of the way there. Do this, and you’ll see real, measurable progress as well as achievements you’ll truly be proud of. It’s all pretty simple stuff, really. Just training yourself to keep your word to yourself.