Why setting clear intentions is important for goal setting in the workplace

If you’ve been a regular reader of Jouta’s blog posts, you’ve seen us refer often to intention. This is no accident, and yes, we’ve been intentional about doing so! In fact, we feel that intention is, ideally, the driving force behind all that we do in both life and business. With the end of the year fast approaching, we thought it was a good time to clarify what we really mean when we talk about intentions – and how they’re different from and important to goals.

For many, the idea of setting intentions leads them to think about yoga, meditation, oracle-speak or self-help, and they may dismiss it as “airy-fairy” or not having any place in business. But intentions are used in yoga and other realms for good reason and their use in the workplace is as important as in any other area of our lives.

What are intentions?

Intentions, by definition, are ideas, aims, or commitments that you plan to carry out, regardless of outcome. They are typically broader than goals and are a way of thinking and moving through your day. So long as they’re positive, they give purpose to your actions and are intended to inspire and motivate. Driving behaviour (but with no success or failure attached), they are the fuel behind your goals and objectives.

What are goals and objectives, and how do they align with intention?

Goals and objectives, on the other hand, while meant to set us up for success, can also set us up for failure because they are specifically attached to outcome. They’re more specific, they help us create a plan with milestones and timelines, and to stay on track. They clearly play a critical role in business, AND they are stronger and more likely to be achieved, if they’re fueled by positive intention.

Challenges of meeting goals without intention

Consider this example. You have a goal to land five major accounts next year, so you set up a plan with specific timelines, milestones, and measurements. This is all great stuff and important to do (we recommend this approach regularly). But goals and objectives can be tricky – and despite our best efforts, we often fail to meet them, even when they’re critically important. This might be because other priorities arise, a colleague leaves, something comes up in our personal lives, or more often than not, we simply run out of gas or motivation. And of course, so much is out of our control with an ongoing pandemic and extreme weather circumstances, such as fires and flooding.

How intentions fuel motivation and help you meet goals

Now imagine you start with an intention of what you’re essentially trying to bring about, such as more abundance to your life (or your business), or making more money in a collaborative, respectful way, or being a trusted and respected ‘go-to’ account manager. On a daily basis, you intentionally focus on being the kind of person that your accounts naturally gravitate towards; they trust you, and they want to build relationships with you. While you should still focus on your target and milestones, you may not land five major accounts (maybe you’ll land three, or maybe ten). You are, however, consciously creating a successful way of being and of doing business that fuels your continued focus. This, in turn, fuels greater motivation (for yourself and those around you) and stronger business connections.

How can effective leadership intentions benefit your organization?

It’s important for leaders in particular to be aware of their own intentions – which are ideally aligned with the overall WHY of the organization (i.e., why it exists, its purpose, what it’s fundamentally providing to customers). While your mission is what you do and your vision is what you’re working towards, the WHY and intentions are the fuel for delivering on them. When employers and management lead from their intentions, they positively impact performance, morale, the culture, and the success of the business overall.

As you prepare for the upcoming New Year, before you dive into goal setting, consider reflecting first on what you truly intend for yourself, your role, your department and/or your business in 2022, and let that drive your goals.

It’s all about alignment – Jouta can help you make the connection.