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  • Clive Vanderwagen

Why you need to set intentions rather than goals in 2022

Updated: May 1


We're wrapping up a year that's left us all a bit exhausted. Covid has created havoc in the world, and we've had to navigate territory completely foreign to us. At the time of writing Omicron has just hit the headlines and the feeling of uncertainty in the air is palpable. It's a disastrous way to end 2021, just as we were hoping normality was starting to set in. 2022 feels a bit precarious. We're unsure what to expect and what will hit us next.


This is why goal setting can feel daunting. To try and set goals in a world where the goalposts feel like they are constantly being moved is frustrating and confusing. That's why I want to suggest you enter 2022 with a focus on your intention rather than focusing on your goals for the year.


Intention is the goal


Don't get me wrong, goals are important – I make a living as a coach helping people set and achieve their goals. The thing is that none of us know what to expect next year. Forecasting feels crazy. I'm trying to plan a holiday in January and terrified that lockdowns get put in place that mean my one venture out of my home into nature is going to be thwarted by regulations beyond my control.


When we don't feel like we're in control we get anxious. Anxiety is caused by feeling out of control. So while I do think you should be looking at what you want to achieve next year, I want you to go on the journey of setting your intentions for 2022 first.

Intention is about how you want to show up in the world. Intention doesn't set you a goal, it just sets you an intention for what you'll focus on creating as your reality next year. Intention isn't as easy as goal setting because the first step is finding out why you want to create this thing before you even start plotting how you can make it happen.


Intention has no end point (whereas a goal does) – and often where we find our best work because there's less pressure and nowhere to hide. Intention means taking your time to figure out your vision for 2022. It's about how you want to show up and what difference you want to make. Intention is a compass that guides your future choices. Where you focus your energy is where it will flow to naturally – intention shows up as reality.


Just one line


I have a one line business plan. My intention for me and my business is to make people better. As a speaker, trainer and coach, my intention is that people walk away better after an interaction with me. They may be better at their jobs, in their relationships, or just feel better for having chatted to me – it doesn't matter. That's my intention.


My goal stems from that. I want to make money doing that as well. The goal to make money doesn't define my business. My intention does. The goal is a consequence. And if I don't reach my revenue targets, the year will not be a failure if I stick to my intention. Who I am and how I show up in the world is more important than what I achieve. Goals can be amended and rearticulated based on what happens in the course of 2022, but your intention is your constant guiding light throughout the year.


Intention doesn't rely on external circumstances. Intention is vulnerable, and it is your guide. Set your intention by deciding who you want to show up as next year. Generous, kind, wise, loving, a committed parent or partner, whatever it is, make the decision to show up with one line or word.



Get direction for a crazy world


I want you to think about the one line plan for 2022 – your one-line focus – and how that will show up in the world through you being a certain way. Intention is the map you use to plot your course through next year. Intention makes room for all the crazy stuff that's going to come up along the way – you'll have a direction and can let go of what happens during the journey.


Intention means you're not emotionally attached to achieving it, even if things happen that make it harder or more challenging. Intention takes fear out of the equation because fear comes from not knowing where we are going. Intention gives us a destination with a starting point, but it allows us to be open rather than rigid about how we show up in our work and personal lives.


The trick with intention is picking one word or line. Spend some time planning your intention for 2022. Then look at your goals.