Set Intentions Not Goals by Nicole Paulus

Set Intentions Not Goals

Goals are important but they shouldn’t throw you off balance.

This year I set a few goals. Well, actually I prefer to call them intentions. The term goals gets a bad wrap. It implies that you will sacrifice everything and stop at nothing to achieve them, but my life is truly only joyful when I have balance. Instead of setting goals, I set intentions. And I always make sure my intentions are attached to a desired feeling. "Why do I want to manifest this intention?"

Goals - You set them and obsess over them. You cut things, people, and experiences out of your life to reach them. But once you reach them, you feel dissatisfied instead of inspired. You set another goal and keep up the same pace until you achieve that one. The result? You feel burned out, exhausted, depressed, isolated, dissatisfied, and listless.

Intentions - You set them and forget them. You cut ties with things that no longer serve you or the way you want to feel. You put in an ample amount of "self-work" (things that build an inner strength) including journaling, exercising, spending time in nature, meditating, and cultivating a community of support. The result? A somewhat "magical" manifestation of your intentions which makes you feel accomplished, proud, inspired and energetic.

My intention: The Crow
My desired feeling: Strong

Earlier this year I set an intention. I wanted to be able to do the Yogi crow. Though I regularly practice yoga at home with my girl Adriene and occasionally attend a local group class, I didn’t really think too much about the specifics. Instead I focused on getting stronger and the way I felt during and after I practiced; strong and confident. I also liked how clear my mind was when I practiced, it’s the same way I felt when I go for a run. 

I recently started attending a weekly Yoga prevention course. In Germany, your health insurance will reimburse half of the cost of the course upon completion. On my first day, I had a lovely teacher from Italy. The class was small, only 4 of us, so it felt intimate and cozy. We began the practice but I was feeling slightly overwhelmed. It was a faster pace than I was used to. I breathed through everything but I felt like I wasn’t enjoying it. Instead of feeling strong and sexy I was feeling overheated, frustrated and anxious for it to be over. 

After 30 minutes or so doing standing positions, she directed the class to sit on the floor. It was then that she explained how to do the illusive crow. The other three entered the position with ease as if they’d already done this a thousand times. The teacher saw me struggling and came over to help me out personally. She calmly explained how to do it,"You have to keep pressing your arms against your legs in order to create tension, otherwise it won't work." I tried again and couldn’t quite get my legs off the floor, but at least I was in the right position. For the first time, I could feel the tension she was talking about. 

The other day I went for a run through one of my favorite parks. Instead of my usual route, I felt compelled to take a winding foot path through the meadow. There was a small clearance by a tree that I felt drawn to immediately. Perhaps it was all the colorful butterflies flying around or the fact that this space felt hidden among all the tall grass. Either way, I decided I was going to try the crow, you know, just for fun. 

I tried the crow several times but each time I lost my balance. It was then that I decided to record it, just in case. Click here to see what happened next. 

Set an intention, attach a feeling to it, and then forget it.

I wanted to do the crow because I wanted to feel stronger. And guess what happened when I hit my target? I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt proud of myself and my body. I couldn't wait to share the news with my best friend and boyfriend. The next day I hit it again, this time holding it for longer. My new found inner strength spread to other areas of my life as well. On the way home, I let go of my handle bars on my bike, something I had convinced myself was impossible due to the shoddy alignment. And guess what? I rode my bike with no hands, grinning from ear to ear. I can't wait to see what other joyful happenstances my inner strength will lead me towards.

Now enough about me, what are your intentions?