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Goals

The Difference Between Intentional Goals and Arbitrary Goals

December 11, 2018

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I'm  Amanda — simplicity-focused content marketing strategist.  I'm here to help you fit your marketing into your business.

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The end of 2018 is upon us, and if you haven’t started to think about your goals for 2019, you need to start now! Waiting until the last minute is going to ensure that your goals are arbitrary instead of intentional and that you just throw some together instead of giving them forethought.

The Difference Between Intentional Goals and Arbitrary Goals

How do I know this? Because this was totally me at the end of 2017. Despite having a nice long Christmas break, I waited until the last minute to decide what my goals were going to be for 2018. Then, I spent more time making them pretty than putting real thought behind them, or more importantly, connecting them with a “why”.

What Is a “Why”?

Your “why” is the reason for doing whatever it is you are wanting to do. Sounds easy right? Only, your “why” has to be deep, not just surface level stuff, because it’s easy to talk yourself out of working towards surface level stuff.

I’ll never forget reading somewhere as a teenager that if you want to save money, you should put a picture of what you’re saving up for in your wallet. That way, when it came time to decide whether or not you were going to buy something, you would be reminded of what you were saving for. So I did that. I put a picture of Cinderella’s castle at Disney World in my wallet, but it never worked for me. It was all too easy for me to swipe my card at Zaxby’s and tell myself oh it’s only 6 dollars. That’s not that much and not a big deal. It won’t really affect my goal.

The problem? I didn’t have a strong “why”. Simply wanting to go to Disney did not give me that boost I needed to feel compelled to really work towards that goal. So I need to probe further.

Why do I want to go to Disney? Because I love it and it makes me happy.

What about it makes me happy? Walking down Main Street towards Cinderella’s castle fills me with joy and brings tears to my eyes.

My new “why” becomes something like this: I want to go to Disney and walk hand in hand with Russell down Main Street as we smell the Starbucks coffee, and the ice cream, and the fries and hot dogs from Casey’s Corner.

Do you see how vivid that is? Sure, that may not trigger anything for you, but for me, thinking of that exact scenario triggers my want to save for that trip a whole lot more than just “I want to go to Disney”.

The key to intentional goals is a strong “why”.

Intentional Goals Do Not Come From Others

If any of the goals you are planning for next year have to do with an expectation someone else put on you I want you to toss that one out the window right now. The goals you set need to come from your own expectations, and from God.

Two of the goals that were on my list for this year were “Running once a week”, and “Two weight workouts a week”. I despise running, and I don’t particularly enjoy lifting weights either. But there they are. Why? Because I knew my husband wanted me to come work out with him and I felt like I needed to have those on there for him.

Let me make it clear. Russell never told me those needed to be my goals. But I knew he enjoyed it when I worked out with him. He didn’t force those expectations on me, but they definitely came from him and trying to make him happy-not from my own wants. Often, this is what happens. We think we should do something because society says so. Or we want to do something because we think it will make someone else happy with us. But you cannot, cannot, cannot make goals for those reasons.

Spoiler alert: they don’t work.

Intentional Living Changed My Goals Around

Just a few short months into 2018, I began to practice intentional living. However, this quickly turned my goals for 2018 on their head. Some of them I did continue to follow, but a lot of them, I realized that I didn’t actually care about them, or have a strong “why” for them. Such as the exercise goals. Another was having one craft night a month. I don’t even know what I was thinking with that one. That hasn’t happened once this year.

Some I realized that I was on the right path with, but I wasn’t quite where I needed to be. For example, I wrote in January that I wanted to have one on one friend dates twice a month and that I wanted to check in with friends once a week. My idea was that I wanted to connect more with my friends and that I wanted to work on cultivating my friendships well.

Only, those two goals didn’t actually work for me. Finding time to have phone chats can be really difficult. Especially when the majority of my friends live on the East Coast. Trying to navigate the time differences can be hard-often when I get off of work my friends are already at home and having dinner with their significant other. Not to mention, that each person and each relationship is different. Everyone has different love languages and different ways that they connect. So those goals definitely needed some tweaking.

Another way that intentional living changed up my goals? It helped to put into perspective what was really important. For a lot of the year, I was trying very hard to cultivate activities I enjoy because I had a bad habit of needing Russell to entertain me when I was feeling bored. So each month I was picking something that I thought I should or would enjoy and trying to force myself to do it. Now, there’s definitely a lot of merit to this. If I had been doing it to force myself to try new things, then I would have had much more success I think. But all along what I really loved was right under my nose-I just didn’t open my eyes or self-reflect enough to see. Instead of trying to force myself to work on puzzles or practice playing the piano, I was ignoring the fact that I naturally gravitated towards reading and bullet journaling every spare second. And let’s be real, I don’t really have time for more interests than that! Once I opened my eyes, I was perfectly content to fully embrace those “me time” activities.

As you start thinking about your goals for 2019, be aware of what you’re thinking about and why. Make sure you’re setting strong, intentional goals. Stay tuned for next week’s post because it’s going to be all about how to set good goals!

Amanda



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