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  • Tom Brooksher

Pursuing Goals with Intentionality

Chances are, you have goals in your work and personal life. Things you want to achieve. Accomplishments you are striving for.

We’re encouraged, even required, to set goals. We’re reminded that, if we don’t have a goal, we’ll meander through life and likely not get anywhere. In business, we may have mandatory goal-setting exercises for ourselves, our departments and our companies.

Goals are good and necessary, but they are incomplete. They need to be paired with two additional factors: tasks and intentions.

  1. Tasks are the things we need to do to accomplish our goals. They’re the tactical requirements of our journey. They often manifest themselves on our “to-do” list, and they are at least as ubiquitous as goals. (I don’t have to remind you that you need to do some stuff today, or you’ll never accomplish the goal you set for yourself.)

  2. Intentions aren’t nearly as ubiquitous as goals and tasks, but equally important. If goals are where you want to go and tasks are what you plan to do to get there, intentions are how you want the journey to go. They relate how you want to think and behave as you complete your tasks and pursue your goals. They involve how you want to be in the moment as you proceed with your day.

I’m task- and goal-driven. I live by my “to-do” list, which is based on the goals I’ve set for myself. I have to stop and remind myself that the quality of the journey is as important as arriving on time at the destination, even though I really do believe it. So I set intentions in addition to goals and remind myself of them every day, the same way I remind myself of the tasks I need to accomplish that day to accomplish my goals.

Since my tendency is to over-focus on goals and completing tasks, one of my biggest weaknesses is to let completing the task become more important than how I treat people or how I let my feelings affect my attitude. So I tend to set intentions like:

  • I intend to be kind to people today.

  • I intend to be patient with people today.

  • I intend to keep a positive attitude and won’t let minor setbacks affect my attitude.

  • I intend to enjoy my work today.

  • When I realize I’m becoming too focused on completing tasks on my to-do list, I intend to take a break and re-focus on life, not just my tasks and goals.

I’m a natural goal-setting, task-oriented person. Setting intentions is much more difficult for me. I could say that I’m getting much better at it, but that would contradict my intention to be honest today. But I understand the importance, I'm better at it than I used to be (just not “much” better), I highly value setting intentions, and it feels good when I do and when I realize I’m living within my intent.

Do you consciously set intentions for your day? If not, maybe doing so should be one of your goals. But then, you’d need to be intentional about how you want to pursue your goal of being intentional. (OK, maybe I should have stopped while I was ahead.)

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