Goals vs Intentions

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and are in good spirits to start 2023.

While I wait for the hubster to wake, I’m sitting here contemplating where I should set goals or intentions for the new year. What’s the difference? An article at Holstee says the following:

A goal describes what you want to do in the future. It focuses on external accomplishments and is something you can clearly check off a list: “Go rock climbing” or “Learn to make tiramisu.”

An intention describes how you want to feel. Its focus is internal – on your relationship with yourself. Your intention could be to feel joyful or peaceful.

Unlike your goal, which will be accomplished sometime in the future, your intention is a state of being that can start the moment you decide to make it happen.

I am inclined to go with intentions. I learned that in Yogic practice, an intention is referred to as a Sankapla, or a solemn vow and commitment we make with ourselves to support our highest truth.

Intentions are an internally-driven approach, using your internal desire to feel a certain way. Goal setting is still important as it can help us achieve that intention.

For example, one of my intentions is:

I intend to make mindfulness an important part of each day.

From this, I can design goals or habits.

  • To be more present, I will not use my phone while eating, instead focusing on my senses as I eat.
  • I will practice meditation for at least 5 minutes for a minimum of 3 times a week.
  • I will be an active listener when my husband is communicating with me rather than continue to play on my phone or read.

What is your take on setting intentions rather than goals? If you were to set an intention (or multiple), what would be some areas you want to focus on?

Wishing everyone a blessed 2023 filled with love, abundance, and joy.


I stopped setting new year goals years ago. They’re so easy to throw out there without any intention, so they’re easy to not really aim for unless you have that base behind them. Intention is at the root of everything we do. It fuels our actions, and so they naturally lead us toward goals.

I also focus on what I’m doing and how I’m acting every day, so aside from setting small goals each day like getting a particular task done, I don’t often set big goals. I find that if I set the right intentions, and if my small actions from moment to moment are aligned with those intentions, I tend to naturally head where I’m meant to go.

It’s a lot like spell work, I guess! Without intention, it kind of goes nowhere.

Edit: I realize I’m just repeating what you said, lol! As for my personal intentions, right now I’ve been focusing on being more aware of what I say. It’s really easy for me to react rather than to take a breath and look at the situation first. So my intention is to be more compassionate and aware. That’s one of them, anyway. :heart:


My goal was to not buy that many books in the new year until I had caught up on reading them. Which was blown within 12 hours so my intent is to not feel guilty over it! LOL!


I’ve definitely been using these terms in a way that overlaps, if not outright using them interchangeably haha.

I suppose that under Holstee’s definition of the terms, my list I made for 2023 has things that fall into both future things I want to do (goals) and also things I want to feel (intentions). But I can’t help but feel that a lot of things on my list relate to both- things I want to do/things I hope happen, so that I might feel a certain way (ex. immigration situation becomes more stable, so that I feel more stable and secure). So things can be both goals and intentions, if I’m understanding correctly? :thinking:

Maybe it’s just how my messy brain works haha. Very interesting to consider though- thank you for sharing this, @Amaris_Bane! :heart:


I think this is perfect! My psychiatrist has me working on my mindfulness as part of reducing my GAD/MDD. By focusing on the present, I am not going through the “what ifs” of the future or “what could have been” from the past.

Haha!! I feel you! I set goals around how many I read in a year vs buying because otherwise I will feel guilty. This year I am attempting three books a month. I have read 2 already, lol, reading them fast when I get into them!

Most definitely! How I am going into this year is to set my intentions and then create goals to reach or maintain those intentions. I am also only focusing on 2-3 goals per quarter (Jan-Mar, Apr-Jun, etc) as to not overwhelm myself.

Thank you everyone for reading and weighing in!


Setting intentions is something I’ve been trying to work with more. It’s like the step above creating a goal. The intention is the reason for the goal, and I think that’s a good method to go with. It’s like creating a SMART goal – it needs to be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-based. You can’t have all of that without an intention!


This topic was automatically closed 180 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.