The power of intention in goal setting

You’re three weeks into the New Year, how are those goals coming along?

We all need a bit of a push sometimes and the prospect of a New Year has the ever-present feeling of possibility, overcoming obstacles and mental rebirth. Moreso, if you’ve had a not-so-great year. It’s the time of year you can’t wait to head into detox and finally get into the grind. Kick a bad habit or start a good one. But, have you ever wonder why so many New Year’s resolutions go unfulfilled by the end of the year, and that’s considering you’ll make it past February. Well, here’s a thought, you may be setting goals for the wrong reasons.

Understanding Goals

To be effective in the process of goal-setting; it is essential to understand what a goal is and isn’t. A goal is simply an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envision, plan and commit to achieving. But having a goal is only as good as its connection to a real purpose and its value in realising that purpose. Many people endeavour to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines. However, the inconsistency of the ‘New Years Resolution Goal’ is the fact that 98% of goal setters attach goals to a superficial reason rather than in-service to their entire being. i.e. are your goals elevating your cause? Is it advancing your purpose, or is it merely filling a time slot of something you think may be a good idea at the moment?  

This type of goal-setting is superficial goal-setting. They scratch the surface without a clear connection to why and how the goal itself contributes to your self-development. Without a clear link to the goal’s value over your short term progression, it becomes much more challenging to develop a bright, consistent pattern of self-commitment in the long run.

Social Influence on Goal Setting

It is not uncommon for many to cling to a superficial notion of self-growth in the form of an immediate return. We live in a society barraged with social filters of perfection, how-to’s and easy hacks to career elevation, killer abs and much more perfected infused ideas. In the process, many fall trap to a stereotypical timeline of goal-setting with an expected conversion that does very little for creating a powerful influence on your growth, mindset and wellbeing.

The measurement, therefore, becomes tainted and as a result, frustration sets in if results aren’t realised as fast as the preexisting notion for achievement.

Recognise The Pattern

Consider this: How often have you witnessed a friend, colleague or relative start a new routine only to quit, forget about it or run into time issues? In the end, they fall into a bitter cycle of blame and self-loathing on the general idea of New Year’s goal-setting. Instead of, understanding how to amplify their connection with the goal through smaller acts of enrichment. 

It is vital to keep in mind; goals serve its purpose better through a habitual process. They are not something you plan, execute and bam you have it. The achievement of a goal is as successful as the system upon which it is integrated. This requires considerable training of your mindset to accommodate the changes rather than the constant measurement of a single result.

The Prep Work Is More Important Than The Act Itself

Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario I often use during self-development sessions addressing the act of goal setting. Recognising whimsical superficial thoughts vs holistic strategy.

Scenario 1 Lisa Mills decides this is the year she starts working out and signs-up at a lifestyle gym she’s driven by several times. On the first day, Lisa is motivated and confident with herself for taking the initiative to start this new activity. The hype of a New Year further fuels her motivation. She even does an Insta story spread #Sweating2020Goals. After three weeks, Lisa doesn’t see a significant change in her physical appearance and starts to wonder if this may be worth her time but continues to push forward. By Week 4, Lisa invests in new gym attire and accessories intended to boost her mood. After another week, little things start to annoy and invade her space. Her work seems to go 15 minutes longer cutting into her gym time while personal errands begin to stack up. After eight weeks of Gym life, Lisa decides she hates the Gym. She tells herself the Gym environment isn’t for her. The smell of sweat and the idea of germs were just a turn-off. She just wasn’t energetic about the concept anymore and never returned.

Scenario 2 Annie Fisher, another professional from the same office building too decides its time she took up the reins of a Gym Membership. But in her story, Annie takes a holistic view on incorporating health and wellness into her lifestyle. To her, it’s essential to have the energy and mental clarity to keep up with her life’s many demands, vision and changes. In the past, Annie realised, she overfocused on areas that led her into burnout and stress. Looking at her lifestyle choices over the last decade, she maps a realistic outline of options necessary to live the life she envisions. To kick off the new addition to her routine, Annie preps 45 minutes earlier in the morning with her favourite healthy juice and a quick 4-8 minute visual meditation. Her focus is not on her weight but deeply attached to the person she needs to be, to continue living the life she desires to lead. She further uses her new fitness routine to model behaviours to get her young kids more active and possibly interested in healthier lifestyle behaviour as they grow.


A goal is only as good as its intention and the nurturing of the habit(s) to reach them. Without clarity in both, you’ll always be wondering why or unclear to see its worth in the short term and long.

In Scenario 1, Lisa Mills sets a new goal without connecting a firm intention and building that with real habits to achieve them. While in Scenario 2, Annie Fisher incorporates health and wellness as a part of how she views herself as she excels in her life.

Proactive Goal Setting For Today’s Mindset:

  1. SET CLEAR OBJECTIVES Why are you doing this? Before you make bold statements just ask yourself the basic of them all – why do this now? If you can honestly answer this, you may have a real shot at connecting the dots further in the process.
  2. BUILD THE INTENTION Connect goals with your lifestyle as you ask yourself: How does it add to your identity? When you look at yourself in five/ten years – will what you’re trying to achieve now, maintain its relevance in the short term to make it relevant in the long? Will it be adding to the path to help you thrive onto bigger ideas, places, people and/or negotiations? Build as much connection to the intention of the goal(s) you’re setting out to achieve.
  3. ENFORCE THE HABITS Plan ahead. Prepare mentally to commit, connect, build consistency and accountability. Consider asking yourself questions that help you see clearly: what you need to do to aid in the habitual process. The little everyday things. i.e., Will, you need to wake up earlier? Will you need to commit to a new training program to gain the necessary skills in building your knowledge base for better-paying jobs? Will you need added support from close friends or family in babysitting as you step-out more onto the business scene? Whatever it is, these are the little things that are often neglected but are here to stay. The things we must account for responsibly, so as to integrate space for new progress without feeling guilty, stressed or like many, burnout.
  4. PRACTICE VISUAL IDENTITY Become what you preach. How will you become the essence of your goals? Like an arm or leg, ask yourself: how will this become a part of how you identify with yourself? And not just a piece of clothing to be recycled? This is an ongoing process. It is NOT something you do once then place X near a box. At this point, elements of learning, teaching and becoming coexist.

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  • Nerissa J. Persaud

    Founder and CEO

    Ignite The Human Spark

    Nerissa J. Persaud is a Guyanese-Canadian Entrepreneur, Writer, Personal Development Coach, Mental Health Advocate and Mother to two. For over ten years, she has been at the forefront of building relations, leading talent acquisition strategies, unlocking and aligning potential. Nerissa is committed to improving mental well-being, productivity and resilience in the workplace and beyond.

    Described as “a challenger to how we ordinarily think,” Nerissa has dedicated her professional life with the firm belief we all have something meaningful to contribute; further supporting the ideas and conversations to bridge the gaps.