Down With Goals – Set an Intention-Direction Instead!

This time of year is traditionally a time for setting goals, especially in the business world.  There’s plenty of evidence that people who set goals are more likely to achieve them than those who don’t set any at all.

And yet this doesn’t account for the numerous people who seem to get where they want to be without setting any goals, like Rosemary Harris, award-winning actress, who said “I’ve only ever paid attention to what was in front of me, making decisions according to the opportunities available and what I would most like doing.”

And Louise L. Hay, who has never set a goal in her life, and laughs when asked about it.  She did something very similar, simply knowing where she was going based on where she was at, at the time of decision-making.

So this year I invite you to set an intention-direction, or ID.

Your ID is the general direction in which you would like to go this year in your business.  It’s an intention because it’s got a focus, and it’s a direction because when you are running a business, you need to keep it pointed down the road you want it to take.  Otherwise it’s only too easy to get lost in numerous cul-de-sacs, dead ends and going round and round roundabouts.

So just what is an intention? Well, I think of it as a focused statement with blurry edges.

That may sound a bit odd, but let’ s compare it to a goal.

A goal is pointed, and you will either reach it or not. If it’ s a goal, according to the SMART mnemonic, it will be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.  There is no room for anything other than reaching exactly what you said you would do, or better.  If you don’t attain the goal, you have failed.  No two ways about it.

There’s nothing wrong with goals.  They can be brilliant motivators.  But just as often I see them as demotivators, when you don’t achieve them.  It’s just too easy to fall into self-blame (‘I just didn’t think positively enough, that’ s why it didn’t happen’), or fault-finding (‘If only that other company hadn’t pinched those clients, I would have been much better off), or shame (‘I feel really embarrassed; I said I was going to make that goal, and I’ m still miles away from it. How could I do that?’).

An intention, combined with a direction, gives a general path down which to go.

For example, this year my intention is to provide as many people as possible with opportunities to become more at ease with the idea of death as a natural part of life. My direction is to offer my Before I Go workbook for sale, and also several courses based on that workbook to individuals, groups and organisations.

There’s no deadline, no numbers, no specifics. Goal enthusiasts will throw their hands over their heads here!

With goals there are often measurable steps to be taken, so you can see how you are progressing.  With intentions, yes, you check in from time to time to see how you are doing, but you also

allow space for movement and change.

This means that events that have occurred which might affect your intention get an airing; you are able to adapt your intention to fit in with these without feeling guilty that you are changing your goal, instead of achieving it; and perhaps most importantly, there is space and time for miracles and magic to show up.  With a tightly focused goal, there is little space for this.

So this year, have a think about how having an ID (intention-direction) might benefit your business. Ask yourself the following:

  • What intentions do I have for my business this year?
  • Where do I want my business to be going this year? (Your direction)
  • What is the aspect of it I am most passionate about and would like to be doing more?
  • How willing am I to show up in each situation, trusting that I will be guided to the next best step for me? (measure this on a scale of 1-10; if if your answer is less than 8, then recheck whether you really are doing something you are passionate about!)

If you want help with any of this, then take the opportunity of a free Spirit in Business Strategy Session, by completing this form here.


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