Setting an Intention vs. Setting a Goal | Is There a Difference?

by Jayne Kopp on September 29, 2011

Power of intention, setting intentions,

The Power of Intention

Lately I’ve been thinking about the difference between setting an intention and setting a goal.

Although the two are related, I feel there is also remarkable difference in an interesting sort of way… at least that’s how it strikes me and likely why I feel it’s worth thinking about …and why I’m sharing my thoughts today.

Now of course, if you’ve been reading my blog of any length of time you already know I am huge on goal setting, in fact I have many goals myself.

When it comes to setting intentions however, I feel in some ways to me, they feel more immediate and seem to glean greater results much faster than solely working on my goals… in fact it almost feels like it’s a done deal.

You see, to me, setting a goal is outlining or drawing an illustration of something that you plan to work towards and bring it to fruition, but (to me) goals are almost always aimed at completion sometime down the road. While you may have a deadline to achieve the goals, hefty goals are almost always to be achieved in the future.

My take on setting intentions however is that you fully intend to get to that goal… like NOW. In other words you have set your intentions to map out a clear set of steps that you plan to take effective immediately, and intend to get ‘serious’ to get you to that goal PDQ (pretty darn quick). You know what is to be done and it’s just a matter of doing it.

At least, that is my interpretation in any event.

Now, in case you are wondering, I’m not detracting from the importance of goals. My goals are alive and well… and I have quite a few. The thing is, I rarely share my goals. I like to keep them to myself… as they are mine… and I don’t need input from others, negative or positive because it makes no difference anyway.

I suppose I also feel sharing goals sound too similar to sharing ‘dreams’… even though to me they are much more than that.

With that said, I think ‘goals’ are sometimes viewed by some as things that will happen but you don’t always know when. (I suppose it depends on what ‘it’ is… but often they are a work in progress)… i.e.: ‘oh yea I have a ‘goal’ to do “X” one day” …. (See what I mean?)

Funnily, I do share my intentions. If my mom or significant other asks me what I have planned for the day I very confidently rattle off my list; even though the planned tasks for the day are always in alignment with my goals. I just feel that with the power of intention under my belt, things seem to materialize in a more tangible way because I’ve made it my mission to do so and I always have something to show for it at the end of the day.

The Power of Intention feels different …

Lately I’ve been getting up in the morning and setting intentions for each day while keeping my longer term goal in focus.

Maybe it’s because there are less that 100 days until the end of the year and I’ve kicked myself up the Khyber pass to do some catch up or at least gain better traction on a few ‘goals’ that have lagged a bit lately.

As a result I’ve seemed to really clear on my goals as well as well get more done accomplished and felt very determined and almost cross at the fact that I had a loosy goosy summer and put a few things on the back burner.

When I have sat down to make a list of the things I “intend” to do for the day the tasks have been immediately achievable.

Each task on the list are things that have seemed to propel me closer to my end result as well. Perhaps it’s because I’ve intended to do them NOW instead of later… or maybe it’s because mentally I know its catch up time and time to get this show on the road.

When I tell my self I am setting my intention, I seem to put the extra steps under a microscope and am very clear on how I’m going to take the steps to bring me closer to them instead of having a mental picture that I’ll get to ‘soon’.

This morning for example, I addressed my goals. I knew that in order to reach them I needed to do xyz.

As a result I ‘intentionally’ got my proverbial butt on the move to ‘git ‘er done’ and after flying around like a mad woman, frothing at the mouth, my progress was quite astonishing. There was no inkling of procrastination either… I just knew what had to be done and got my skates on! ;-)

As I checked off my list I was 5 or six steps closer to my month end ‘goal’ and to honest it was a huge boost to my motivation, morale as well as a great relief!

Yea… I like it… definitely has more clout. Seems to ‘stick’ for me anyway.

From now on I think I’ll keep more of a handle on my intentions rather than gazing across the meadow at my goal at the end of the rainbow… even though I know I’ll get there before too long. (Especially at this rate!).

I guess it’s what works for you because of course we are all different, but putting this slightly different spin on the terminology seems to have added extra fuel to my fire!

What are your thoughts? Do you categorize the power of intention in a slightly different way than goal setting?

I know there are many feelings and explanations on the difference between setting an intention and setting a goal… and peculiarly based on some quick research there are huge variations even though we are talking about a fine line.

I suppose that’s what made me curious to hear if your thoughts and interpretations are similar to mine… and if not, I thought it’d be fun to see the difference of opinion.

Please leave me your take and feel free to tweet, share, dig, stumble… or whatever turns you on!

Then go set your intentions with fury and perform a task or two to bring you closer to your end result! :-)

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Natalie Peace October 12, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Hi Jayne,

love this – food for thought!

I’m a fan of goal setting and intention setting… interesting to see everyone’s interpretations of both. To me, the power of setting intentions and taking inspired action is undeniable. Whether you call it a goal, an intention or a desired outcome, maybe it’s all the same – but whichever one resonates the most for you, is the best word to choose.
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Catarina Alexon October 4, 2011 at 8:33 am

Agree with you Jayne. Setting intentions is a very good idea. Lately I have also said to myself that today I will do x,y,z and actually get more done. And by doing so I get closer to my goals. Seems we think along the same lines. Like for Saudi women, Rome wasn’t built in a day – but step by step..:-)
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Jayne Kopp October 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm

HI Catarina, I am pleased that we obviously do think similarly when it comes to achievement and digging in our heels to get to the end result.

I agree, Rome was not built in a day, and when you do it single handedly, you occasionally need a few extra weeks! That’s ok though… at least it happens eventually… again… just like for Saudi Women! What a celebratory occasion! :-)

Jayne

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Radu October 3, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Hi Jayne,
I enjoyed your post:)
Intentions are acts that focus a smaller amount of energy while goals require consistent attention and persistence.
While a big goal may seem to scary (raise 1 mil $ for example), intentions allow you to do things naturally without being stressed by the deadline.

However, there are moments when you do something without intending it consciously or setting a long term goal. For example you see a book in a bookstore. Something “inspires” you to read it. You come closer, take a short look and bam you buy it without planning.. While reading the book, you discover things that may change your life…At least, this was for me, many times.
There is a higher level than intention and goals.. inspiration: everything works great and you ask: where the heck that comes from :)

Thanks for sharing your ideas with us:)
All the best,
Radu
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Jayne Kopp October 6, 2011 at 12:24 pm

HI Radu, well it seems we do have similarities. I know about unexpected scenarios. I think sometimes they just materialize because of what we have already made happen!

Lovely to hear your take. I get a kick out of hearing all different opinions and thought processes.

Best

Jayne

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Lou Barba October 3, 2011 at 8:34 am

Hi Jayne,

The best way I have of understanding this post is what I used to do in my golf game. I would set a goal to break 90 and work towards that goal. When I accomplished that goal, I reset the goal to break 80, etc. My intention with golf on an almost daily basis was to hit as many practice shots as I could in order to accomplish my goal. So, there is a difference in the two, as you say.

Lou
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Jayne Kopp October 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm

HI Lou, yes, I get where you are coming from. Setting ‘daily’ intentions is the one that seems to feel more meaningful. just as you did each day as you practiced golf.

thanks for your input!

Jayne

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Marcus Baker October 3, 2011 at 4:53 am

Hi Jayne,

I think the difference between gaols and intentions is what we associate with each of the words.

The problem with “goals” is that they usually refer to quite big outcomes and we often do not know how we will achieve them.

Even if we know what it is we want to achieve , by knowing this we also know that we haven’t yet achieved it. The outcome is yet to materialise, it is still missing. Without realizing, we unintentionally focus on the not having of it rather than the having of it. This impacts on our vibration and then we are no longer able to attract what we desire to us.

“Intentions” on the other hand refer to smaller outcomes that are really sub goals of our larger goals but they are more believable because they are smaller. We know we can achieve them,believe we can and so don’t focus on the absence of them and consequently sabotage our efforts.

Well that’s my two cent’s worth anyway! :)

Have a good week.

~Marcus
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Jayne Kopp October 6, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Marcus… I love that. Yes… sub-goals. How ingenious. :-)

My sub goals tend to be things I do every day because they are all a means to an end.

Like you say, it is the meaning we each attach to the words, and how we all personally understand them.

I resonated with your two bits!

best

Jayne

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Easther Sudharta October 1, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Interesting article Jayne, never thought of that, intention vs Goals.
for me intention & setting goals are a different things. Intention, is I mean to do that..but goals, are the things that I want to achieve.

thanks for sharing it with us.
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Jayne Kopp October 2, 2011 at 9:00 pm

HI Easther, thanks for coming. No I had not thought about it either until someone asked me if I had set an intention to do something.

Then in the usual ‘Jayne’ way… I started pondering the topic. It seems there are many opinions on the difference/similarities topic of the two. Who knew.

Thanks for leaving your input.

Best

Jayne

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Diego October 1, 2011 at 11:43 am

Hey Jayne, to tell you the truth, i dont set goals nor intentions, i set desired outcomes and focus on them constantly. I follow the OPA plan that my mento Tony Robbins taught me. And ive been able to run 13 companies with ease and flow.

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Jayne Kopp October 1, 2011 at 12:13 pm

HI Diego, now, to me setting a ‘desired outcome’ is a goal that you intend to materialize and become tangible. (that’s just me).

I am a fan of Tony Robbins too, but what is the OPA plan?

I know Diego, from the few interactions I have had with you that you are very capable and focused.

Whatever is your chosen path obviously works for you! :-)

Please, if you have time, share the OPA plan. You have peaked my curiosity.

Thanks so much for stopping by, I know how busy you are!

Best,

Jayne

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John October 2, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Hi Jayne,
I’m sure Diego will want to share his thoughts on OPA as well but I thought I’d share my own too. OPA is the basic model from Tony Robbins’ Rapid Planning Method (RPM) and it stands for Outcome, Purpose, Action. The basic idea is what do you want, why do you want it, and how are you going to get there. Even though it is not expressly stated, intention is present.

For me, the problem with the idea of intention by itself it doesn’t appear to be enough. Putting out an intention is great, but you still have to do something. I can tell from you’re writing that you are the type of person who gets things done. Some miss the action part.

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Jayne Kopp October 2, 2011 at 9:05 pm

HI John, thanks so much for stopping by and beating Diego to the punch!

((joking Diego) …

Funnily I had not heard Tony Robbins talk about that although I was just listening to him the other day talking all about getting to where you want to be.

John, you are 100% right… setting an intention does sweet B all. You definitely have to take action… but for some reason it seems to light my fire because when I intend to do something, I always do it! ;-)

After all, we can think things to death and it won’t mean or produce a thing if we don’t get our fanny’s in gear will it? :-)

lovely to see you.

Jayne

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Adrienne September 30, 2011 at 9:58 am

Hi Jayne,

I have to agree with Joyce on this explanation. “My intentions are my plan in the mind of doing something, while my goals are the steps I take to achieve my desire.”

I believe by stating my intention for the day, I implement the actions it takes in order to reach that goal. I think for me it just clears my mind and gives me a better outlook on just what it is I want to achieve whether it’s for the day, the month or the year.

Great discussion and I enjoy reading what everyone else thinks as well.

~Adrienne
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Jayne Kopp September 30, 2011 at 10:33 am

HI Adrienne, nice to see your smiling face on this sunny autumn day.

I have found by reading everyone’s responses that we are all ‘similar’ … yet we vary.

The two are so intertwined, I suppose it depends on the context … and whether you’re thinking immediate or longer term.

Thanks for stopping my Adrienne.

Jayne

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Angela C. September 30, 2011 at 5:59 am

I think they go hand-in-hand. If you intend to do something and set your mind to it, the next step would be to set goals to get you from point A to point B.
You can’t really have goals without intentions. Intending to do something would be the precursor to setting a goal so that the intention can be achieved.
But you can have intentions without goals. You can intend on completing a few New Years Resolutions for example but unless some tangible steps are taking to move toward them, they will never get done.
This has been fun to think about though and it helps me understand a bit why some of the things I have wanted to do have not gotten done. I think maybe sometimes I have intentions but no solid goals to follow through with.
Thanks for the food for thought this morning!
Angela :)
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Jayne Kopp September 30, 2011 at 10:31 am

HI Angela, I agree you can have intentions without ‘goals’ so to speak.

and… as you say, you can’t have goals without intentions. After all anyone can set a goal… but if they don’t intend to reach it, it’s nothing more than a flash in the pan.

Thanks so much for participating in this conversation Angela.

Jayne

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Joyce Oladipo September 30, 2011 at 2:01 am

My intentions are my plan in the mind of doing something, while me goals are the steps I take to achieve my desire. It’s my intention to make $100,000 by the end of this year. My goals are the steps I take to make $100,000. I think they both work hand in hand. Loving this discussion
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Jayne Kopp September 30, 2011 at 10:28 am

HI Joyce, how lovely to see you back again.

They do indeed work hand in hand. I suppose I magnify the goals… and my intentions are the steps I take to reach it.

I guess I look at the immediate steps as indentions ie: what I intend to do “today”.

On the broader scale, however my intention is to reach that goal, so they are intertwined.

Funny isn’t it? I am enjoying hearing what people think.

Jayne

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Oliver Tausend September 30, 2011 at 1:40 am

Hi Jayne,

thanks for sharing your insights. An intention can be the birth of a goal. For example, I might say:”I want to lose weight.” Is this a goal or an intention ?

Of course, it is an intention and as such it is worthless and without taking action, it will increase the number of promises we broke to ourselves.

Taking action means doing the first steps, that means setting a goal about how much weight I intend to lose and in what period of time and I how I am going to do it, eat less, exercise more or both. What kind of physical activities am I going to exercise and so on and so forth ?

Take care

Oliver
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Jayne Kopp September 30, 2011 at 10:26 am

Hi Oliver, how nice to see you, it’s been a while. I will have to get on that! I will set an intention to pop over and visit you today!

Yes, Oliver, I understand your thoughts. I also agree that an intention is worthless if we don’t take action.

I find it interesting how we all have our ways of explaining. There is a fine line. The bottom line however, is that whatever we want to call it, or however we want to think about the meanings (to us)… as long as it works.

Thanks for dropping by Oliver.

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pea September 29, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I am your opposite number in that the weaker meaning of the two for me is ‘intention’. For me it conveys something you might do – you intend to do, but no problem if you don’t. Goals sound more definite, even the syllable is singular and harder. Unlike you I don’t attribute a distant period to goals either, they could occur in the next ten minutes.
However, like you I like solid goals to aim for daily.
So having noted our gaping difference of opinion, of course it doesn’t matter if your word resonates with you and my choice with me. The end result is what counts. :)
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Jayne Kopp September 29, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Hi Pea, isn’t it funny how we all interpret things differently.

After reading all the different opinions online, I rarely found two that were alike.

As you say though, it is the end result that counts and whatever terminology helps us to get there … it’s all good!

Jayne

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Fred Tracy September 29, 2011 at 11:39 am

Very interesting, Jayne. I especially enjoyed your inclusion of “PDQ” – I hadn’t heard that one before.

I definitely think setting a goal difference from setting an intention in a lot of ways.

I tend to think of setting goals, as you mentioned, as something you’ll eventually achieve in the future. Furthermore, I tend to conceive of it as something that you’re logically doing on the outside world. That will make more sense second.

Setting intentions is an entirely different process for me. An intention is something that focus on mentally and vibrationally. It’s a more spiritual process than anything.

Sometimes my intentions manifest faster than goals, and sometimes later. Often times they even coincide with my goals. But the clear difference is that where intentions seem to be related to “inner work”, goals tend to be related to “outer work”.

Hey, it works for me. :-)
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Jayne Kopp September 29, 2011 at 12:43 pm

HI Fred, once again, you got here PDQ! :-) I suppose you know, that it is to do with our ‘internal’ feelings.

Obviously using this term makes me vibrate! :-) but it’s all how we perceive the meaning. As long as we get on the horse to make it happen … that’s all that matters!

Jayne

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Fred Tracy September 29, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Talk about innuendo, lol!

It’s late here, have a good night and a wonderful day tomorrow!
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