Our culture supports the idea that life progresses by accomplishing goals. Accomplishing goals is satisfying and gives you a feeling of accomplishment. Small ones like checking off a to do list are fun. Big ones like achieving the annual company goals are even more exciting.
The life you get is a result of the choices you make. Goals are a way of making very clear choices. However, when goals stand alone, they can create unintended consequences.
Here is an example of how this might work. You set a goal to purchase the home of your dreams. You do all that is needed to make that dream a reality, including saving for the down payment and guarding your credit record. You reach your dream and purchase your new home. In a few months you find yourself stretched financially and stressed by the added commitment of the new debt, and all the other things a new home requires like furnishings and increased costs such as utilities, taxes and insurance. What went wrong?
The book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Steven Covey has sold millions of copies and has improved the lives of millions around the world. In this book, Habit two is, Begin with the End in Mind. When your prosperity is at stake, the end is your intention.
What went wrong with the new home purchase was you did not Begin with the End in mind. The End, your intention, was not clear. An intention serves as a clarifying spotlight by illuminating the purpose behind your goals. Intention gives your goals meaning. Intentions connect you to your deepest feelings and as such create a force for manifesting our deepest desires.
The results you get are a consequence of the choices you make. Setting goals is a way of making clear choices. By clarifying your purpose or intention before setting your goals, they become a powerhouse for creating the life of your dreams. When your intent is clear, your results flow from that intention. Your goals are naturally aligned with your higher purpose.
Go back to the example of the new home. If you had clarified your intent before purchasing the home, one possible version might have been, “I intend to live in an environment that supports my well-being and feelings of prosperity”. With this bigger intention, the goal of a new home takes on a whole new character. Now you are comparing each possible purchase to your intention of well-being and feeling prosperous. From this point of view, financial over commitment isn’t likely. You are not going to feel prosperous or support your well-being if your monthly resources are stretched too thin.
Setting and achieving goals without clear intention can leave you feeling burnt out and stressed, as in the new home purchase example. By contrast, setting goals with clear intent gets you where you intended. When your choices are aligned with your intent, results such as fulfillment, peace, prosperity and joy are possible.