Setting Intentions to Manifest Your Impact

Setting Intentions to Manifest Your Impact

| By 3P Insights |

Setting intentions can be a powerful way to help us achieve our business goals.

The start of a new year is a great time to pause and reflect on both the year behind us and the year ahead. It can also be a good time to think about habits, practices, and projects you would like to continue and perhaps more importantly, what you want to let go of.

Goals, Goals, Goals

This time of year, everything is about goals. Career goals, life goals, business goals, and of course, resolutions. But intentions are different than goals.

In their paper summarizing 35-years of research on goal setting, Dr. Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham defined a goal as “the object or aim of an action… usually within a specific time limit.” Goals are a desired result. They’re what you want to concretely achieve. For example, you might set a goal to gain 10 new clients this year. It’s clear. It’s measurable. And hopefully, it’s achievable.

Setting goals works so well in business because it’s part of a recognized cognitive process of planning and analyzing. It gives you a sense of control on how you’re going to move from where you are now to where you want to be. And your brain loves that. It rewards you with “feel-good” hormones such as dopamine each time you achieve one of your goals. As explained by Dr. Ralph Ryback, “each time your brain gets a whiff of this rewarding neurotransmitter, it will want you to repeat the associated behavior.”

But what happens when you don’t achieve your goals? Those good feelings become negative, and you might even begin to feel like a failure. For some people, falling short of a big goal causes embarrassment, frustration, disappointment and reduced self-confidence. Falling short of our goals can also prevent us from setting high goals in the future.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Life happens. Things get in the way. You might even change your mind and decide to pivot mid-year. And this is healthy in life, and in business. Flexibility and adaptability are keys to resilience.

Intentions Rather Than Goals

Intentions allow us this flexibility and adaptability, while also keeping us grounded in our objectives and our deeper purpose.

An intention is an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result. In other words, it’s the practice of seeing the end first. It’s derived from the word intend: to have in mind as something to be done or brought about. As so well put by Jennifer Williamson:

“Intention is more than wishful thinking—it’s willful direction. It is a philosophy of the heart put into practice, a consistency of conscious patterns of thought, energy, and action. Through intention, we see more and create with more clarity, passion, and authenticity. Our attention then becomes a spotlight for every shred of supporting evidence that we’re on the right path.”

Setting intentions is the act of stating what you intend to accomplish through your actions. It is a deeper cognitive process than goal setting. It involves the process of determining mentally what action or results you want to achieve. It’s a commitment to what you want the journey to be about as you move forward. And it requires presence along the way, checking inside as you work on the outside.

In this way, setting intentions can be a powerful way to help us achieve our goals. Intentions bring a special quality of focus. They serve as an inspiring reminder of the bigger picture. And they spark introspection: aside from results, what are you hoping to gain from the process?

So, instead of stating “I want to gain 10 new clients this year,” we might state, “I want to build and nurture new relationships this year.” The process of building and nurturing new relationships may very well lead to 10 new clients. But this intention doesn’t pressure us to attract exactly 10 new clients or limit us to 10 new clients for that matter. And it gets to the deeper purpose for many of our impact-driven businesses – that we want to connect with people, raise awareness about the problems we want to help solve, and cultivate relationships that can help us make a difference.

Reflection and Intention Setting

In preparation for reflection and intention setting, take a few minutes to answer the two questions below. Either write down your answers or just think about them in your mind:

What matters to you most right now?

What brings you a sense of joy and happiness?

Now, join in this brief meditation practice to help get you in the mindset to set your intentions for the year ahead.

Do your intentions include making changes related to your business?

Subscribe to the 3P Insights Learning Library and access the full “Setting Intentions to Manifest Your Impact” workshop. You’ll learn more about how intention setting can help you achieve your business goals, as well as techniques to help you stay grounded in your intentions all year. As a subscriber, you’ll also be able to access the WeCOPE workshop for everyday mindfulness and mindful meditation. This workshop is part of a 3-part series specially produced for 3P Insights by Amy Nosal of the University of Wisconsin Extension office to help entrepreneurs build their resilience and impact.  

As a Learning Library subscriber, you’ll learn, network and grow your business with experts and entrepreneurs from around the world!

Click here to learn more.

3P Insights is a consulting firm that offers training, speaking and support services to help organizations attract and retain diverse talent, create inclusive workplaces, become better environmental stewards, and improve their overall social, environmental, and economic impact.

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