Why Are We Setting Intentions Anyway? Connecting Your Goals to Your Truth

Wellness expert and coach Amina Altai helps her clients build healthy professional and personal lives. Among other things, Amina is a former Getaway guest and featured on our upcoming season of The Getaway Podcast. She shared with us her thoughts on intention setting and being your best professional self in this new year.

I’m a healthy business advisor and I help people feel really great in their work, whether it’s in the context of an organization or in their own business.  After being on the front lines of entrepreneurships for the better part of a decade, what I learned was that healthy people and healthy businesses are intrinsically tied.  In my coaching practice, I look at experiences holistically through a mind, body and business approach to growth. We evaluate clients’ relationship to themselves, food, work, movement, relationships—all of it.  Because it all impacts how we show up for our work and our purpose.

So when the new year rolls around and all my clients pile into sessions fretting about their new year’s resolutions and with a litany of work goals, diets and workouts to labor away at, I ask one question.  Why? What’s the point here?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that goals and intentions are a bad thing at all.  I commend the drive to grow and clearly, I value human transformation. After all, I’m a coach whose life’s work is to inspire people to be their best in work and in life. I fully believe that when we relinquish what weighs us down and fill our lives up in the right ways, we are freed to do what we’re meant to do in this world. Self-help equals world help in my opinion.

If self-help is defined as “the use of one’s own efforts and resources to achieve things without relying on others” or as a “self-guided improvement”—I’ve noticed there is a propensity to totally abandon the “self” in this equation. As New Year’s rolls around I see self-help bingeing—pre-ordering every book before it even hits the market, signing up for every boutique fitness workout ClassPass will allow, and binning everything that isn’t Whole30 approved.  Resolutions and goal setting can become a drug that eats away at the real you.

The only person that can thrust you into greatness is you. Your path can be inspired by, but not found on, the pages of just any book. And if you really wanted to #liveyourbestlife, we need to journey to the truth of who we are and why we do what we do. And no one is better equipped to guide you there than, well, you.  New year’s goals and intention setting can be incredible and valuable—there’s no doubt about it. However, like a quick-fix diet plan, goal setting and new year’s resolutions can be chaos if they’re not connected to the truth of who you are and your deep why. Resolutions and intentions by themselves are not enough. If you want to thrive, you need to have self-awareness around your goals and intentions too.

Why do you want what you want?  Is it what you need for your own personal growth or is it a societal, cultural, familial ideal you think you should want for yourself? I invite you to think deeply on that.

My time as a coach, as well as through my own deep soul searching, I’ve done some serious diving into why we want what we want. I’ve learned that ideals around work, weight and lifestyle are indeed learned but the precursor to those ideals are beliefs.  Our belief systems are learned from our families, caretakers, cultures and subcultures and they are often unconscious and unexamined. Beliefs about our self-worth, our value in the world, the work we do, and how we should look are all acquired. Growing up in a household where the story line is “we’re not enough” will likely cement the belief that you are not innately valuable.  So, you eat to comfort yourself. You overwork to remain lovable. You do what you think you should do to hide.  And then when you feel slightly out of control, you set goals and intentions to course correct the behavior instead of the belief. So as you scribble away on your new year’s intentions, I invite you to find your why and answer the below questions to set yourself up for a powerful and authentic 2020.

2020 Intention Setting Exercise

I recommend starting with a little celebration.   Taking a moment to feel joy for what we achieved often points to our why as well.  Take a moment to witness where you won big this year, what the circumstances were that supported these big wins and how it made you feel.  And then I want you to think about where you might have missed the mark and what you want to release as a result.  

Celebrate: What were your big wins in 2019? Why did they feel so great? What conditions were present for you to achieve this level of awesomeness?

Release: What do you want to let go of from 2019? Honor and release any shame from your lows.  Shame, just like beliefs, are often programmed into us as well.

  1. My Mission Is…
  2. My Big Juicy Vision Is…
  3. Who do you want to BE this year and why? Is this something that is deeply connected to your broader mission or is it programming from an old belied system? (Notice here I asked who you want to be, not just what you want to achieve or do) What do you need to heal or transform to BE this version of you in 2020?
  4. What do you want to create this year and for whom?
  5. How do you want it to take shape?
  6. What next steps do you need to take to become this version of you and serve how you want to serve?  What do you need to do over the next 30 days, 60 days, 90 days?
  7. What resources do you need to bring this to life? How can you creatively access or manifest these resources?
  8. My 2020 mantra is…

Now, I want you to think big picture for 2020.  I invite you to think of your broader mission and vision and how you’re doing to bring it to life.  You can do this for one specific area of your life, or all areas.

If you’re looking for the perfect place to set your New Year’s intentions, you know where to go. Make your escape today.