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Goal Setting or Intention Setting?

It’s the second half of January, and the time we start feeling our enthusiasm for New Year’s resolutions starting to wane. Even if we’re using a lovely Leatherpress journal (!), change is difficult, and our goals may be losing their luster.

Let Go Of Goal Setting

It might be time to let go of goal-setting and gutting it out with those resolutions. Is there another way? Can we get a second take on this process?

Tuxedo Black journal for business next to a laptop

Embrace Intention Setting

That’s where intention journaling comes in. Even if you make a list of goals and resolutions, you’ve got to consider the why and how to effectively reach them. Setting an intention can not only provide an effective way to meet your goals, but also shift your mindset to change beyond our goals. After all, when we make a resolution, aren’t we hoping for a change?

Exploring Intention

If you look up the word intention, you’ll find its Latin root to be “intendere” or “Intentio”, which means a stretching toward a purpose, or turning one’s attention toward something.

Clearly, intention setting means steering our mindset toward the why and how behind a goal or desire, not just the what. For example, we set a goal to save more money each month because we want to spend more time with family abroad and we’ve got to purchase airline tickets.

Intention can also involve the “how.” In this case, our intention to spend more time with family involves attention to how we spend our finances

Cultivate A Mindset

That may sound more complicated than a checklist of goals, but is it? If setting an intention means recalibrating your mindset, this means you’ve got the positive power of attitude and enthusiasm turned in the direction of your goals. Your checklist becomes a tool and not a dictator. In fact, you’ll find your checklist to be more pliable, more accurate, even more inspiring and enjoyable.

Intention Setting Might Mean Habit Change

But living into our intentions isn’t only a mind game. It’s a wholistic approach to goals or desires. We’ll need to take action. We’ll need to cultivate habits—or break them—in order to move forward. For example, if we need airline tickets to see family, we might need to curb a dinner-out habit and eat in to save money.

Putting It All Together—An Intention Journal

Our initial challenge at the top of this blog post was slogging through to meet our resolutions. Looking deeper at our intentions gives context around our resolutions and goals, getting to “why” we want to see change as well as putting the “hows” in place to get us there.

If intention setting seems far more satisfying for you than goal setting, grab a journal. We, of course, prefer our Leatherpress journals, but we’ll leave that to you. Here are some questions to think about as you journal your intentions.

  1. Intentions usually grow from desires, dreams, and hopes. What dreams do you have? Jot down what comes to mind across areas of your life like personal health, education, work, and relationships. Add any other categories you need, like spiritual health or travel. Our Journaling for the New Year post captures some of these reflective questions for roles that might apply to you.
  1. Think through what’s possible now, given who you are and where you are in life. If you are paying college tuition you might have to wait to start your own business, for example. Or maybe that’s why you need a side gig!
  1. Narrow down your list.
  1. Think through actions that are a result of that intention. “Getting to know neighbors better” might mean you invite them for drinks on the patio.
  1. What habits will help you turn your attention toward a purpose? Maybe getting up 15 minutes earlier means you can exercise more days per week and keep your body healthy.

Remember that intention setting is intentionally holistic. It’s not one-and-done goal setting. It’s not about productivity as much as it’s about setting regular practices. And it’s not about a race, but about routines that orient your mind and body toward meaningful change over time.

Use An Intention Setting Journal

Use your journal on a regular basis, perhaps daily or weekly to evaluate how you are doing with your intentions. What’s working and what isn’t? What life events or situations have changed, and do you need to reevaluate what’s possible?

Give those resolutions a rewrite. Harness your “why”, set realistic expectations and use your intention to move you forward toward your dreams.

And, if you need a lovely journaling companion, choose from colors and styles here at Leatherpress.