As we near the end of January 2019, I want you to ask yourself how those New Year goals and resolutions are going?
If you’re like 92% of people, you won’t have stuck to your resolutions, because you likely set vague ones or had unrealistic expectations like:
“I’m going to become a celebrity game show host” or “I’m going to break a world record in gumboot throwing”.
Champagne can do that to the best of us…
There’s another factor here, that has likely led to you not succeeding…yet, which is that you probably didn’t have a plan to make your lofty goals or resolutions a reality.
That’s where you need intentions to go along with your goals, to ensure you will actually succeed.
What’s the difference between goals and intentions?
Goals are focused on the future. They’re about a destination or a specific achievement. For example I am aiming to compete in the Kinloch Sprint Triathlon on February 10th.
I’ve been training towards this for almost three months now, up to six days a week, so I damn well hope I hit my goal time on the day.
My big hairy audacious goal is to qualify to represent New Zealand at the World Champs in September this year. Eeek!
Intentions are in the present moment. Intentions are lived each day, independent of reaching the goal or destination. They are about the inner relationship with yourself.
What I know to be true, is that the journey of getting my level of fitness up to speed (pun intended) to be able to compete in this event, has been the really rewarding part.
Everyday, I’ve turned up with intention to make a micro improvement in my run, bike or swim. No matter how tired I feel or what my last result was.
The actual event, although it matters, is not going to replace all the hard work, commitment and dedication that I’ve put in to my training since October.
The real intention is to get into peak health, and maintain that for the rest of my life!
Why Goal Setting Sucks On Its Own
I’ve always been an avid goal-setter. For most of my formative years, I used my competitive nature and Upholder tendencies of always doing what I say I will, to achieve my goals.
And I did achieve a LOT of them over the years. I was determined to.
The thing is, once I’d achieved a big milestone, I was often left feeling pretty empty.
What I’ve noticed over the years, as I got older and thankfully wiser, is that I was putting all my eggs into one basket, and setting myself up for a let down, rather than focusing on the journey of continual improvement.
And I know I’m not alone. I’m 99% certain you’ve experienced this in life too.
But, if all we focus on is working long and hard to reach this one monumental goal, when you finally hit it, all those links you’ve created between yourself and your sense of worth disappear.
So now you can’t define yourself the way you did. And you have all this time on your hands that you don’t know how to fill.
I felt like this after I won my Regional Body Sculpting Championship – something I dedicated myself to for 9 arduous months, I felt a severe lack of identity.
I had a bright shiny trophy, some bling and a tub of protein powder, but my quest to be the best had now passed, and I didn’t know what to do next!
She notes that added to that is “neuroscience kicking you in the face while you’re down.”
In short, your brain releases dopamine, a hormone associated with both motivation and happiness, in anticipation of reward.
That’s what keeps you working towards your goals, especially where each milestone you set towards achieving it gets hit, it gives you more reason to keep going, and a biological position to feel good.
The problem is, when you reach your goal, that release of dopamine drops and it’s harder for you biochemically to have joy.
The other reason goal-setting leaves you disappointed is that it moves you towards what you think you want, and takes you out of enjoying the present moment.
So instead of being grateful for the here and now, you’re left feeling like what you currently have isn’t enough, and you must strive harder to get the ‘next big thing’.
Which leads to you being stuck in an endless cycle of goal setting to fill the void.
Living your intentions, on the other hand, is much different than having a goal-oriented focus.
That’s because it allows you to focus on how you want to be in the moment, how you want to feel right now, and everyday.
It’s not about winning or losing, hitting or missing, it’s about tuning in to your moment to moment focus.
This means you live life by your values and what matters most to you.
And that’s a beautiful way to live, right?!
How to combine goal setting with daily intentions
The key thing to understand is that focusing on your intentions does not mean you give up your goals.
It actually means you’ve found a great partner to achieve your goals with.
I like to think of intention as your personal trainer. It gives you the daily rhythm, motivation and accountability you need to transform yourself.
By being intentional you’ll enjoy the journey as much as the destination, and therefore bring more joy to everything you’re doing.
Intentions really act as a reminder on how you want to show up in the world and live each day. They give you the purpose to show up to meet your goals!
That’s why my partner Josh and I baked in intentionality into our Life Pilot tool and methodology.
We’d both had enough life experience and exposure to all sorts of methods, strategies and frameworks, to know that goals are devoid of joy, unless they’re backed by daily intention.
That’s why when people join our Life Pilot Challenge, we ask them to set no more than 3 goals OR intentions – each day, week, month or quarter, based on their chosen life categories.
This takes some getting used to, but once you tune into it, it makes life planning way more enjoyable and ‘sticky’.
My real life example of intentions supporting goals
If you’d looked at my Weekly Tab in my Life Pilot spreadsheet last week, my ‘work’ category goal was to Finish first quarter of Content Editorial calendar.
I smashed that by Friday afternoon, because when I planned out my week in advance, I had set ‘working on my content calendar and brainstorming topics’ as one of my three ‘Daily’ actions on both Wednesday and Friday.
I didn’t just hope that by our Sunday Reflection time that it would have magically have happened. I had stated it in my daily actions and scheduled it into my calendar!
My intentions backed up and supported my goal.
Same with my triathlon training. Last week’s ‘health’ goal was to Plan / prepare and nail swim event.
When I turned up on Sunday morning to choppy ocean conditions at Oriental Bay in Wellington, I was tempted to not compete.
Thankfully, I’d set several daily intentions throughout the week to be fully present at my swim trainings.
As a result, I knew I was more than prepared for the event and just needed to stop being a wuss and get to the start line.
Once I stopped swallowing water from the barrage of waves, I actually enjoyed it!
How to apply intentions to your life goals
Let’s say you wanted to finally develop a meditation practice, so you go with:
Monthly intention for January – Deepen my meditation practice to improve my appreciation of life.
Your weekly goal might be: Commit to doing at least 4 guided meditations.
Your daily action then could be: Use Insights Timer App to do a guided meditation
Each morning you look at your journal, notebook, whiteboard (or your trusty Life Pilot spreadsheet) where you’ve recorded this, check your daily actions, then schedule in time to make them happen.
That night you check back and record whether you hit, progressed or missed your action.
Doing that alone, often reveals, after several days and weeks, trends and patterns of what you like to do and what you avoid.
That way you can break the pattern by getting an accountability partner, setting a different goal or figuring out whether your values are aligned with what you’re setting.
Like anything in life worth doing, you need to always remain curious as to why you do some things easily and put off others.
You need to ask better questions to make sure you are digging into these patterns, behaviours and habits, so you can continually be working on being your best self.
Now, what do you intend to do next?
Want to test out our Life Pilot tool and methodology for yourself? Join our next 10 Day Life Pilot Challenge starting February 1st. Details at lifepilot.co
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This year, I want to help you to do something that you’ve been putting off for way too long, whether it’s a vlog, a blog post, writing a book chapter, launching a website, going on your first run, or going out on your first date.
If you want to show up and tap into your true potential, the key is to ask yourself better questions.
So I took the ten questions and answered them for myself, and I’d love you to do the same because they are juicy, and they WILL help you unlock your potential:
1. If I could write a letter to the 2009 version of myself what would it say?
Grab a piece of paper or a journal and write a letter with advice to the version of yourself that is 10 years younger than you now. What would you tell yourself ten years ago that’s going to help you through this period?
What I like about this is the author actually is pretty funny. In his version he was still a teenager. So he’s like “when you go to have your first tequila, don’t have any more. Just trust me on that.”
For me, ten years ago I would have been 31. Almost.
I was in Vancouver and this was the year that I was in my first ever startup, a tech startup called Connection Point Systems and launched FundRazr. We were about probably only three to four months in, and I was diving deep into the world of entrepreneurship for the first time.
That was a pretty formative year for me!
I learned how to be an entrepreneur. I learned how to raise finances. I was playing Ultimate Frisbee and skiing in Vancouver, Canada. I was learning a lot about this new country and the city I was in.
I was also starting to blog. I had a blog and I was starting to blog more consistently and it was around the end of that year that I started realizing I think I wanted to just turn this blog into my business …but that’s a story for another day.
So what would I tell ten year younger self?
I would tell myself to not drink so much coffee, to not stop playing Ultimate Frisbee… even though you’re working like crazy because you’re in the startup and you’re hustling.
I would say it’s good to hustle but life is short and you can’t spend all of it working. I think it would have given me more perspective if I’d had that advice back then.
Everything else was going pretty well that year probably that I should always believe in myself and then I have more skills, experience and knowledge than I realize and then I should put it into action.
That I should trust in myself. That I should be using the fact that I’m a female founder in a tech company to my advantage.
To not be intimidated by the lack of women in this area and to really use it to stand out and to make the most of it.
I probably will give myself some romance advice. So I will say, you will find some awesome men who are ready to man up, be a great friend and potentially an awesome partner.
Don’t be put off by the Pacific Coast attitude of being too chillax for their own good and just focus on enjoying yourself, going on dates with hot men and just being in the moment.
The rest of the year was pretty damn good.
I think it would just probably be to go easier on myself and not take life too seriously, to not work so hard and have more play.
I would love in the comments, if you wouldn’t mind just sharing a little bit of that letter to yourself.
2. If I could only accomplish one thing before I die, what would that be?
Think of one thing you want to achieve, accomplish or experience more than anything else.
The reason for asking that question is that once you figure that out, you will pursue that with every ounce of hustle you’ve got because life is just too precious for regret.
I’m pretty thankful that I’ve accomplished a lot of things that I really wanted to do in my life.
I’ve done a lot of travel, written two books. I’ve created a six figure business from scratch which has been pretty epic.
And now I’ve had the chance to be a puppy parent which I take pretty seriously and freakin’ love – the best role in the world.
Also, I have the opportunity right now to be a triathlete and to really continue on that journey so that I can represent my country in the future or just become the best version of myself.
There’s a lot that I feel I’ve done over the years – crazy challenges, body sculpting, dragon boating, world record breaking, gold medals and Frisbee. It’s been epic.
I would love to be a prolific author whose book has sold a million copies and touched the lives of half a million plus people. Even if that’s a 10 year journey.
I’d like to write a book that has massive lasting presence, because I’ve been touched by so many books and I just think there’s kind of no greater honour than writing something that resonates with so many people and makes a difference in their lives.
I’m listening to a great audio book right now, The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape. It has sold a million copies to date, but it’s also been out since 2004!
You can tell by the feedback that he includes in his book and the case studies of people he’s helped, that he’s genuinely changing lives and making everyday people more financially astute.
Books change lives and when they are written in such a way that they just spread and everybody talks about them, that’s a beautiful thing.
There is something really special about that because I think it means you’ve really mastered the craft of fantastic writing, empathy, compassion and also covering a topic that so many people are challenged by and need help with.
That would be one thing I’d love to do before I die.
I’d also love to achieve a world record in something. That sounds so vague doesn’t it?
So what is it for you? What is one thing you want to accomplish before you die? What would that one thing be?
3. What are the top three things that make me feel happy and fulfilled?
#1. I am absolutely at my happiest when I’m out in nature.
I could spend all my time wandering around our garden, spotting new flowers and buds on trees, listening to the birds, looking at the grass and off into the distant hills.
I mean nature just brings me so much joy and it’s free!
It’s worth protecting, it’s worth nurturing and growing and I really love here where we’re at our house and in New Zealand.
We’re planting trees because we’re stewarding this land for the next generation of people who come to live here and they’ll do the same for their families and their children.
#2. Another thing that makes me feel happy and fulfilled is hands down animals. My dogs just light me up. I’m so surprised at how much joy they bring me.
Giggles, laughter, love, cuddles, surprises, learning, patience and so much awareness around how they live their life, how they view the world, how everything is fun, adventure and exciting.
Animals in general make me appreciate them and what they bring to this world.
#3. Being in the company of fantastic friends and awesome people who just give me a fresh perspective on life, who challenge me, who make me laugh, who hold space for me, who make me appreciate and understand different perspectives and who just get me.
Those are my top three things that make me feel happy and fulfilled.
Once you’ve figured out your top three things, then you really should be building and scheduling around them for a happier existence.
4. What are the top three things that distract me from enjoying my life?
#1. My own inner thoughts, especially on days when they’re negative and I find myself getting down on myself, or in a headspace that doesn’t serve me.
On the whole, I’m an incredibly optimistic person but I have noticed that my attitude, thoughts and beliefs have got the better of me a lot more in the past year than I thought.
Thanks to 20 days in a row of meditation and yoga right now, I can already feel me becoming the master of my own ship (mindset) and getting control back.
#2. Getting caught up in the mundane details of things that are not important – getting stuck in to dos and things that are simply not a priority.
I noticed that even just last week, I put off doing some really important pieces of work because life admin got in the way and I put a whole lot of other things in front of me that were not my core needs.
I was the one who let them take me away from doing the really important work and also experiencing more joy in my life.
Some of them are necessary. Some of them though, I prioritized because I felt I needed to be responsible for them.
Such as looking after our WWOOFers, making sure our dogs were happy all day long, organizing events and activities, rather than actually getting onto the things that I had put into my weekly Life Pilot plan.
#3. Negative people or getting caught up in other people’s stuff.
When it comes to closer friends and family, I’ve been noticing recently that I care more than I’d like to about some of the stuff going on in their life.
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to care about people you love and value! But you don’t need to own their crap. You don’t need to get caught up in some of the stories they’re telling themselves.
You get to be there for them. You get to support them but you don’t need to take that on.
So those are the three things. I’m curious to know what yours are?
5. Am I in control of my thoughts or am I at the mercy of them?
On the whole, I do believe that I do a really good job of being super grateful every day. I am incredibly present in the moment. I’m always looking at things that light me up.
I get so much joy and pleasure and happiness from the simple things in life. I appreciate them. I talk about them. I thank them. I’m grateful for them.
And then every so often my goddamn mind goes to something that’s just so unhelpful. And it’s usually a belief or a thought or an idea that is not true and is not serving me.
And it’s typically around not being enough, or having these ridiculously high expectations that I’ve had all my life, and thinking that I’m not meeting them.
I was looking back over some notes from my first ever coach I hired, when I was in Vancouver, and he wrote that I was too hard on myself …and he’s so right.
What’s the verdict for you? Are you in control of your thoughts or are you at the mercy of them?
I’d say it’s probably a combo and we want it to really be that YOU are controlling your outlook on life.
6. Am I in control of my eating decisions or am I at the mercy of them?
Now the reason for this question is that your thoughts influence your perception of reality yet your eating decisions influence your mood and energy levels.
Happy, healthy people consciously choose to eat foods that make them feel alert, focused and energetic.
We all know when we’re unhappy and maybe unhealthy, we unconsciously allow our mood and social surroundings to dictate our eating decisions.
I’ve been keeping a food diary for about two weeks and I’m going to continue to do it because it makes me conscious of what I’m putting in my body, and keeps me honest.
I showed it to a nutritionist who I hired the other day, to specifically help me with my training and fueling my body for my upcoming triathlons, mainly because I hit a bit of a wall this week.
Turns out that I’m eating all the right things, being really healthy, but I’m not eating enough and I’m not eating at the right times before a workout and post workout.
She was like “I’m not changing anything in your eating habits, I’m just getting you to get your timing better.”
The fitter I get and the more training I do, the leaner I get, and the more energy I typically have.
The more I can handle the training load, the more focused I am, the more vibrant I am, the more disciplined I am around my work as well as my personal life.
It just had a massive positive knock-on effect to every area of my life.
When it comes to eating and fuelling your body and viewing your body as a vessel, are you on the good side of it or are you on the not so good side of that?
Be honest with yourself. Do you need to improve your relationship with food and love yourself more?
7. What strengths did I use to achieve three major goals in my life?
Think about three of the biggest achievements of your life.
That could be when you graduated from college. It might have been when you got a really big pay raise at work.
It might have been when you started your business and you never thought you would. It might have been publishing a book.
It could have been winning a competition. It might have been marrying or being in the relationship that you’re in. Getting your first house.
Think about all the major goals.
Then think about what are the personal strengths you use to achieve those things?
Do you see any trends there? Typically if you do, that’s the road that leads to success and it’s right in front of you.
For me, buying my first house at age 21 was a pretty damn big deal. I’d always been really keen on real estate.
I’d watch my parents do a very good job of buying these houses, doing them up, selling them, taking that investment, putting it into another and doing better each time.
They built up capital that way and secured some financial stability for the family.
I also just was fascinated by property portfolios and real estate and how they were such great investment if you bought right.
Another big major goal in my life would be starting my business in 2010.
I used my strengths, I backed myself, I believed in myself. I took a chance. I’m really good at taking big leaps and taking chances.
I thought screw it, what’s the worst that could happen? I could always go back to a job.
I made things happen and I took action every day. When I had fears and doubts and I just kept hustling and kept experimenting and kept staying passionate and curious.
Those were some of the strengths that served me there.
Again just major belief in finally having a story and a message to share. A real desire to get that book out there and to go through the journey of writing it, publishing it, marketing it and making a difference in people’s lives.
I think the discipline, combined with the motivation, and the pure desire to make a difference – made it a reality.
So those are my three major goals and strengths that come with it.
I would love to know what your three major goals are in life that you’re really proud of and also some of the strengths that used to achieve those?
8. How can I use those strengths more often?
Which of those strengths are lying dormant right now, which of those you are under utilizing, which are those of you’d like forgotten that you had?
Was there anything you can think back to when you’re a teenager or even younger that you are really not utilizing, that you’re really good at but you’re not tapping into.
Now is time for you to tap back into that potential!
I would say a couple of things for me right now probably are:
Speaking is a strength that I do think that it is something that really brings me to life and I can do a really good job of and touch a lot of people’s lives in.
Another strength that I’m tapping into more now is coaching. I’ve been slowly focusing on getting clients again, bringing that in back as an arm that supports this business of content creation in my business.
I am also really enjoying diving deeper, learning more and adding more strings to the coaching bow which I think is always a great thing to do.
But I look forward to exercising those muscles even more and stretching myself more so that I can stretch my clients more.
9. How do I want people to remember me?
So rather like question one, which was what advice you would give to your younger self, in this instance, my question to you is – how do you want to be remembered?
You’ve probably seen examples or read articles where people have suggested that you write almost your own eulogy for your funeral of how people would remember you.
In many ways it’s a chance for you to step up and claim who you want to be – right now.
For me, I want to be remembered for being passionate. For being kind. For being motivating. For being inspiring. For being a little bit crazy. For being adventurous and for being a lifelong learner. For somebody who loved deeply, who gave her all and who generally tried to leave the world a better place.
In my eulogy, that’s how I’d want people to remember me. And also that I love to freakin’ dance and sing and that everything should be celebrated with champagne!
10. Why do I exist?
So now that you’ve done quite a lot of thinking and answering all these other questions hopefully this will come to light a little bit more.
If you could write your own biography, what would it actually say about you? If you could write your entire life as the author of your own book, what would it say?
For example, are you a humanitarian? Did you win a Nobel Peace Prize? Did you invent something crazy? Or did you just live a really good humble, purposeful life?
You gave, you contributed, you educated, you learned, you maybe raised some amazing kids.
You lived a quiet yet peaceful, environmentally, friendly low carbon footprint and you always listened to people and saw their side of the story.
That would also be an absolutely beautiful reason as to why you exist. So I would love you to answer that question.
I think for me, I really believe I exist to be a shining example to others of living a very good fulfilling and purposeful life.
One where freedom, adventure and being present in every single moment trump everything else and that any work that you do do is rewarding and purposeful and helps people immensely.
So those are the 10 questions that you can ask yourself to unlock your potential. What did you learn about yourself? Share it below!