What Is Your Intent?


What Is Your Intent?

I recently attended an Association for Coaching Co-Coaching Group, the theme of which was intention-setting.

I was curious.

Why weren’t we just working on goal-setting? What was the difference between a goal and an intention and surely an intention was a lot weaker than a goal, something you intended to do rather than something you were definitely going to make happen?

Yet we all have clients who are goal-averse; we all have clients who may not achieve their goals or certainly have to change the goalposts a few times to ensure they do; and we all have clients who no matter how many times we tell them “there’s no such thing as failure, only feedback” still feel like abject “failures” because they haven’t achieved their goals!

So could intention-setting be a useful re-frame and what else might come out of this exploration?

Definition of Intent

The actual definition of intent, as we discovered, is:

“Determined to act in a certain way; the state of mind with which an act is done.”

That last bit really interested me – that intent is a state of mind.

So an intent is actually your thoughts (in the present) directed towards a desired outcome (in the future). Thus intention has a NOW. In essence it’s the motivation to take the first step towards your goal – pretty crucial in coaching.

In fact the word ‘intent’ is derived from the Latin intentus meaning ‘stretching out.’ Setting your intent means you are stretching out towards the future, sending your attention and purpose forward in time from the present moment to the time of the goal.

The real learning, however, came when we stopped debating and started experiencing for ourselves the difference between goal-setting and intention-setting. When we worked with someone on a specific intention rather than a goal, the results were amazing.

Experiencing Intention-Setting

So, what happened when we tried it out? Well many of us, myself included:

  • Felt the power of the NOW
  • Felt a greater sense of ownership and hence possibility
  • Experienced a strong sense of energy and forward momentum
  • Sensed a deeper, more intrinsic motivation
  • Felt an innate sense of purpose and passion

In other words we felt much more of an emotional connection to the goal and ‘e-motion’ is the energy that motivates us, the foundation of all our actions, behaviour and behavioural changes. Without emotion there is no change.

What Is Your Intent?

So what is your intent as a coach/coachee?

Mine is most definitely to explore intention-setting further as a way of building a bridge between the present and the future, understanding the emotions that lie beneath the desired outcome and using them as a potent force for change because, as the great Deepak Chopra states:

“Intention is the starting point of every dream. It is the creative power that fulfils all of our needs. Everything that happens in the universe begins with intention.”

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