3 Reasons Why You Can Stop Setting Goals

I rarely set goals anymore. Not that there’s anything wrong with them. If you want to learn Italian or climb Mt. Everest, you can certainly set goals to do those things.

It’s just that the concept of a “goal” feels limiting. What if, by focusing on a specific thing, I eliminate other possible outcomes that would serve me better? Things I never considered? An even bigger dream?

God can dream a bigger dream for me, for you, than you could ever dream for yourself.

—Oprah Winfrey

So now I set fewer goals, and I live with more intention. Here’s how I split that hair.

I intend to have more peace in my life.

I want to open up to more joy. 

I welcome abundance.

These statements describe a feeling state. They’re different from I will meditate every day for an hour. I will find new hobbies. I will save $1,000 by the end of the year.

Intention statements describe the essence of what we truly hope for but stop short of stating how we will get there.

Yes, the “how” is left to our choices. But it’s also left to life’s magic. And often to a Wisdom greater than ourselves.

We can breathe life into our intentions in large ways or small. Actually, it’s easier to achieve a desired feeling state if we take small steps.

If we crave more peace, we carve out a few minutes of solitude each day. 

If we long for more love, we take the time to reach out to the people we care about.

We can begin bringing our intentions into form in simple ways:

  • Finding an object or physical representation of it,
  • By listening for it through music,
  • In journaling about how we see it manifesting,
  • By creating a vision board or collage of images that reflect it.

We don’t always have to take big leaps to make big dreams come true.

Goal-setting is defined as “a process that starts with careful consideration of exactly what you want to achieve and ends with a lot of hard work to achieve it.”

But setting an intention means we open up to all possibilities, not just one. We move into “expansion mode” because we’re not limited to one particular result. 

Setting intentions allows us to both clarify what we want and allow for that to come to us in a myriad of ways, many of them unexpected. It doesn’t always take a lot of hard work to realize our intentions.

The outcomes can often amaze us.

Goals are designed to be measured. They are, by definition, easy to quantify. They might come with a checklist or a rating scale… some method to determine whether they’re met.

Goals have their place. And when something needs to be counted or completed according to specific guidelines, I can go with that.

But we create our intentions by looking within. There isn’t a graph or a chart that calibrates success. Their impact on us is a personal reflection.

And as I move through this season of life, I hope to eliminate as many mandates from the outside world as I can. I hope to live more from the inside, out. 

And I’ve learned that when we lean into setting intentions rather than just setting goals, we tune into our heart’s true desires. We open up to being led, inspired, and surprised.

I’ll choose that kind of hair-splitting any day.

How do you feel about setting goals? What does it mean to set an intention? Have you experienced both in this life stage? Join the conversation!

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