Your Ultimate Guide to Intention Setting versus Goal Setting

Intention Setting versus Goal Setting

Do you know what the difference is: intention setting versus goal setting?

While both ideas are often used these days, knowing the difference can be helpful. If anything, intention or goal setting exercises tend to leave most people confused, uninspired or disempowered either way. And you want to avoid that!

Conversely, with knowing the difference between intention setting versus goal setting, you get to be more aware of what combining the two can do for you. It’s not one or the other. In my article, I’d like to highlight the pros and cons of each separately.

Ultimately, I recommend a process that not only leads you to reaching your desired outcome but in a way that also elicits a desirable positive experience. It’s also a process that is holistic – a meeting of heart, mind, body and spirit! The idea is to create authentic actionable guideposts that are challenging yet not allow blocks to obstruct your success.

Sounds exciting? Read on 🙂

 First, allow me to share about my own journey. For a long time, until I started learning about the Law of Attraction and setting intentions by experts such as Dr Wayne Dyer, I was more familiar with setting goals. I became intrigued by the realization that there was a difference between intention setting and goal setting. My intrigue arose because I was not successful previously with setting goals.

Goal setting exercises for me were mostly left-brained activities. In fact, I was taught to do them in the following manner: start with deciding on a high target to aim for. And so, I would work out some numbers. For instance, I would decide that in order to reach sales of $1 million, the goal would be to sell 10,000 packages at $100 each.

Some of the goals I had set seemed like a stretch. But I was advised to set big targets and not let my doubt interfere. Knowing how important it is to have goals written down, I would diligently do this too. However, as it turned out, I would abandon them two weeks later.

And so, when I was introduced to the idea of setting intentions, I was excited. It was great in helping me understand my values and charting my way forward. I made intentions to inspire the world, make a difference and to share my messages with the world. And it felt really wonderful. I also shared my tips for intention setting. To back these intentions, I came up with a new power word each year.

But….wait a minute…..what about the breakthroughs?

Soon, I began to find that while intention setting felt wonderful, I was not manifesting the breakthroughs that I was looking for. I had no focus or any specific targets to guide my energy attention. The initial positive experience eventually gave way to discontent.

That was when I began to review what the difference between intention setting and goal setting was.

I decided that the best way forward is the Middle Path!

And so, I began teaching my clients my new insights. The exercise became one of up-leveling results, in a way that feels more authentic and yet challenging. It also involves a periodic checking-in process as new life events unfolded. Well, we’ve all observed better results ever since 🙂

Let’s identify the issues that arise with only using one approach or the other.

What is Traditional Goal Setting

Traditional goal setting involves following the SMART principle. S for Specific, M for Measurable, A for Achievable, R for Relevant and T for Time-Based.

Also, when you set a goal, you are planning out steps to reach it. With your targets, you come up with a plan. Setting a goal is cognitive process of analyzing, planning and left brain reasoning.

However, as it would often turn out, life gets in the way when the weeks roll by. You get distracted. Or you may revert to old ways of doing things. External factors come in and you are not able to follow your perfect plan. Soon, whatever you have written down for goals gets forgotten. Can you identify with this?

What Is Intention Setting

Your intentions are statements of authentic desires. They usually form your highest spiritual ideals. For instance, you have intentions to be wealthy, wise or peaceful. At the root, intentions form the motivational reason behind any of your specific goals.

“Your intentions create your reality.” Wayne Dyer

You are simply thinking about your desired outcome or end result.With intention setting, there is no SMART principle to follow. You are not planning the “how”. Intention setting can feel like making a wish or prayer but with strong intensity.

Intention setting makes you feel good because it comes from your heart. It has to be something that you truly desire. Examples include making the intention for the day. When you wake up in the morning, think about, How would you like your day to be?

The best part is that being intentional allows you to focus on how you want to be from moment to moment. This is regardless of whether you are on track to winning or losing in any competitive marketplace. You hold every belief that your intention is already manifesting for you.

Because there is no plan, you are allowing things to unfold. You have faith, and you let go of worry on the “how”. There is no stressing about each and every step towards your desired outcome.

Sounds wonderful, right?

Except that most of us have issues or struggle with letting go of control!

Along the way, we want to know that something is working or that there is a definite plan of action.

And you tap into stress, worry and anxiety.

The mind automatically goes to the “how”.

Understand this: the needs of your left hand brain needs to be met; otherwise, it sabotages your state of being.

Also, it can be hard to believe that your outcome is going to materialise if you also do not undertake follow up actions. Say, you hope to manifest $1,000,000. All that intention setting will just be wishful thinking if you don’t get off your couch.

Power of Intention Setting Goals = Intention Setting + Goal Setting

Well, don’t avoid making goal or intentions altogether. If you want to take charge and design your life, setting them is necessary. Instead, how about taking the best of the two together to create a more positive experience for yourself?

“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dream come true.”

Power of Intention Setting Goals

Here are some changes from my toolbox that you may like to incorporate…

1. Start with making intentions and get in touch what your true desire is.

Make setting intentions the starting point before goal setting. Most people only want to achieve to goals because of their desire for a positive experience. Hence, by starting with your intentions, you get right to the source of what you truly want.

Where there is real desire, manifesting your result becomes a lot easier. Hence, ask yourself if it is a heart-felt desire or is it a want? For instance, I desire to lose weight or I should lose weight.

What is the “why” behind this desire or target that you want to achieve. Let your heart guide you. Are you feeling excited by it? Feel connected with the soul desire that you wish to make. Also, feel the resonance with this intention in your body.

“Before you agree to do anything that might add even the smallest amount of stress to your life, ask yourself: What is my truest intention? Give yourself time to let a yes resound within you. When it’s right, I guarantee that your entire body will feel it.” -Oprah Winfrey

2. Adopt SMART but let go of the attachment to the outcome.

I understand that letting go of attachments is easier said than done. But just because it feels hard or challenging does not mean that you do not do our best with it. Letting go of your attachment keeps you inspired. You are aligned with the intention of staying joyful and present even while you are on the journey of reaching your goals.

If you are having negative emotions around your goals or during your journey, work on releasing your fears about them. With adopting SMART, you are also working out a definite plan of action. You take steps. Every action that you take that is aligned sends an energetic intention to the Universe.

Be open to possibility. Allow things to unfold. Release control. Letting go of control is about trusting that the universe will fulfill your intentions. However, being open to possibility does not mean that you forget about your goals. You adjust them taking into account new considerations.

3. Follow Up with An Actionable Plan.

Follow up with aligned actions ensure success. It starts with making a plan. Don’t forget: you are a soul in a physical experience and manifesting has to involve some physical action. Making a plan to take baby steps count!

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

To achieve a jump in results could involve putting yourself in discomfort. Hence, there is a huge chance of falling back to old patterns and ways of doing things. Fear gets in the way. Working on your mindset is key! Make a plan for this. Avoid waiting till you are about to give up or abandon your goals.

The lack of support and accountability are also contributing factors. Getting mentoring assistance or an accountability buddy are ways to help you stay on track. You track your progress and make upward shifts towards your goals.

Steps to Harnessing the Power of Intention Setting Goals

Set the following intention…

“Mirror mirror on the wall.
I’ll always get up after I fall and whether I run, walk or crawl,
I’ll set my goals and achieve them all.”
Chris Butler

Mirror Power of Intention Setting Goals
Here’s a summary of the steps to take…

1. Activate the power of intention setting with desire and follow through on your SMART goals.
2. Write down what you would like to achieve.
3. Make a plan for how to work on your fears.
4. While you surrender the “how” to the Universe, you also come up with a plan that keeps you moving into taking daily action.
5. Keep inspired with a positive mindset daily.
6. Track against your plan.

If you have not succeeded before, get support and track your progress for better results. Create an empowering experience. Manifesting your desires become a whole lot easier when there is alignment at the heart, mind, body and spirit!

“Everyone has the desire to win. But only winners have the desire to first prepare.”

Love and abundance always, 
Evelyn Lim

P.S. Enjoyed this post? Share it with your family and friends. Thank you in advance.

Share Your Thoughts

Which do you use – intention or goal setting? What is your experience like?

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Debbie L Hampton - January 22, 2018 Reply

I love this! I am not big on setting goals because I think they are actually very limiting and don’t allow flexibility for the “how” to unfold in whatever way it will. I like the idea of blending intentions and goals. Now, that I can live with and get behind. 🙂


Sandra Pawula - January 23, 2018 Reply

I like this middle way, Evelyn. I think it’s always important that our goals come from deep within our heart. So I love how you’ve actualized the power of intention and brought it together with the actionable aspects of goals.


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