Goals, resolutions, and intention

Confession: when I set resolutions or goals for myself, I end up feeling one of two things:

  1. Disingenuous, or
  2. Inadequate.

For example. If I were to set a long-term career goal for myself, it'd probably be "CMO." But I turned down a fancy CMO job offer in 2015, opting instead to be a manager at a company I loved.  I'm not actively trying to achieve that status. It'd be kinda cool if I got to put CMO on my resume at some point, but do I actually want it? I don't know. I doubt it. I have a feeling that I will care less and less about my title as I get older. And who knows what career path I'll grow into. Just because CMO is the logical progression upwards, doesn't mean it's what I'll keep wanting as I progress. That 'goal' feels disingenuous. 

Or what about a common resolution, one I've made before: run a half marathon. I did that. I have the medal, the tee shirt, and the destroyed ankle to show for it. Running long distance was a great experience, but I pushed myself too hard in the name of achieving an arbitrary number of miles and broke my body. I felt so very inadequate when I cancelled my entry to every subsequent race (by order of my physical therapist).

Throwback to running long distance, before my ankle was a useless potato!

Throwback to running long distance, before my ankle was a useless potato!

 

The point of a goal is to give yourself direction, right?

Whether or not you achieve the goal is supposed to be irrelevant - it's all about working towards, focusing, and building.

But here's the thing. I'm not sure that methodology makes sense with my personality. If I decide to do something, I do it. Period. (Usually.) 

Setting a goal doesn't help me with direction - not in my personal life, and not in high-level career planning. For projects at work? Goal-setting makes sense and is a useful tool. But for things like making friends, hobbies, writing, traveling? Goals just stress me out. They add negativity and imposter syndrome into my life without giving me additional direction. 

I'm kind of over setting personal goals for myself. I'm definitely over New Year's Resolutions.

Resolutions are dumb, right Donder? Unless your resolution is more snuggles with your BFF's pup. Then Donder says those are good resolutions.

Resolutions are dumb, right Donder? Unless your resolution is more snuggles with your BFF's pup. Then Donder says those are good resolutions.

 

I'm framing personal growth around intention instead of goal-setting.

Jenn talked about this in her latest piece for On Your Terms. She says,

"I don’t believe in resolutions, they tend to fall by the wayside, but I do believe in intention, and in purpose."

That's exactly it.

My goals don't fall by the wayside because I've ignored them. They fall by the wayside because my intention, purpose, and priorities have shifted.

Shifting intention is not a bad thing. I'm a strong defendant of the right to change my mind. And I do change my mind - thoughtfully and with intention.

In 2017, I'm setting intentions. Just like I've always done. My intentions are the same as they were three months ago. In July (or March or November or in four years) they might change. That's fine, too.

It's about intention. Purpose. Priorities. Not resolutions.


Footnote to caveat some exceptions to my goal-setting disdain:

  • Work, as mentioned briefly above. I find motivation in setting project-based goals and self-imposed deadlines. (e.g. in Q1 2017. I want to make X amount of progress on these Y projects and start Z new ones) 
  • Money. Jeff and I don't have a set-in-stone savings goal (whether annually or otherwise) at the moment, but I see the value in doing so... possibly in the near future.

Taylor Coil is a marketing manager who works remotely from around the world.