Setting an Intention for the New Year

Along with your resolutions, set your intentions the way women workLike you, I have been thinking about my dreams, goals, and desires for 2011, and in the process, received and read tons of advice. Sifting through it all, I have looked for something that could serve to guide me — and all hard-working women — something that was more like a way forward than just another tactical thing to do, or not do. I came away with the clear thought:  along with our resolutions, we need to set our intentions.

While “setting an intention” and “and setting a resolution” may be interchangeable concepts to some, or simply a matter of semantics to others, these are actually two separate but supporting ideas.

Setting a resolution is essentially setting a goal. It centers on determining a future outcome that you wish to achieve and then planning, applying discipline, and working hard toward achieving that goal. To achieve your goals, you must organize your time and effort accordingly.

Setting an intention is quite different from setting a resolution. Intention setting is not oriented toward the future. Instead, it is about being in the present and about the way you choose to live your life. You set intentions based on understanding what matters most to you and then making a commitment to align all of your actions and behaviors accordingly.

To set a guiding intention for your life does not mean you put a stop to setting specific goals. On the contrary. it  means you set your goals and fit them within the larger context of your life intention. It also means that the achievement, or failure to achieve, any one of your goals is immaterial to who you are and what you have yet to become.

For many of us hard-working, achievement-oriented women, so much of how we perceive and feel about ourselves is fused to the achievement of, or the failure to achieve, the goals we set. It’s not immaterial, it’s personal! And so it seems that our sense of self and self esteem arise (or fall) from what we did, or did not do. We learn that goals are not fulfilling in an ongoing way, not really, though they do provide the temporary ups and downs of life.

It is when our desire and drive for achievement are fitted within the larger context of our intentions — the way we live our lives — that we also find our sense of self and self esteem less affected by what we did, or did not do, and more affected by the knowledge that we are living our lives with a greater sense of purpose. Putting muscle on our self-esteem bone is important, since we know that a woman’s self esteem and how she views herself has proven to be one of the most critical determinants of her success in the workplace.

What are your intentions?