Intentions vs. Goals

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An intention is a thing intended; an aim or a plan.

A goal is the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.

I believe there is a subtle difference between the two. I look at intention as a way of being and a goal as something with an end result.

For example, I have the goal to practice at least 15 minutes of yoga every single day. It’s measurable and I can easily hold myself accountable.

During a recent yoga class I set the intention of ease. Ease is not something that can be measured. Rather, it is a way of being. During that class I was sweating my tush off in utkatasana (chair pose) when I started mentally complaining about burning thighs and achy hips. I reminded myself that my intention was to find ease in every single pose. Just the thought caused me to relax. Although the pose was still difficult, I did actually find ease.

If I can find ease in 90 degrees, then what else is possible?

I’ve been playing with setting intentions in my everyday life.

The other morning I had the goal to be out the door with my toddler at 7:15 a.m. I’m usually stressed by this type of goal but I decided to set the intention of creating a calm morning. He still smeared cream cheese all over his face and refused to wear his shoes, but instead of getting worked up I laughed, snapped a pic and tossed his shoes in my purse.

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Goals can be powerful catalysts for change. 

This year I set a goal to become a confident and knowledgeable yoga teacher with four scheduled classes per week. I worked my way there by participating in Grow’s Yoga Teacher Training program, registering as a 500-hour teacher with Yoga Alliance, and teaching my first workshops: Prenatal Yoga with Tarin and Yin Yoga 101. I was scared to teach at a busy studio, but my goal pushed me to step out of my comfort zone.

Intentions can be powerful catalysts for personal transformation. 

My intention for this year was to create joy in every aspect of my life. When I set this intention, I felt grief about my health.

Since I was nowhere near joy, I started with the intention of acceptance. I cultivated acceptance by talking with a therapist, opening up to friends, blogging and practicing yoga every day. Through acceptance I lost the grief.

Goals vs. Intentions

As a yoga teacher, I have the following goals:

  • safety. My goal is that no one gets hurt. I work toward this goal by teaching and checking for correct alignment.
  • empowerment. My goal is that each student cultivates their own practice. I work toward this goal by offering choices, asking meaningful questions & lovingly nudging my students to step out of their comfort zones. This also means continuously stepping out of my own comfort zone.

As a yoga teacher, I have the following intention:

  •  to share what I love. With this intention I can let go of self-doubt: Do they like my class? Are they bored? Do they think what I’m saying is dumb? None of that matters because my intention is to share what I love. This intention also fits my purpose in blogging.

I spent the first half of 2015 empowering myself. Now my intention is to share empowerment with you. You have the power to create anything you want in your life.

Go ahead… what are your wildest dreams? What goals have you/will you set? What is your intention for today? This month? How will you cultivate your intention?

How have goals and/or intentions shaped your life?