Are You A Victim of Goal Setting? by Carol Malone

Fight Card: Ladies NightPlease welcome author and book coach in training Carol Malone. Today she’s going to share an article concerning the differences between goal setting and intentions and how learning the difference can affect your writing. Enjoy!


In a previous article, I explained how the whole notion of goal setting and I got off in the wrong foot. I feared the whole system of goal setting and didn’t trust myself to know what goal to set nor how to accomplish it. This happened to me when I was in my early twenties and I never really recovered.

I always felt that constantly setting goals and losing yourself to the focus of pursuit of future outcomes was detrimental to my mental and emotional health. I gained this feeling because I set goals and failed – thus I felt like I was the failure.

But goals make us better people, right?

There are folks who can set goals, achieve them, and move on to bigger and grander goals. I applaud these hard-working, dedicated people. Then I know people who are obsessed with setting and achieving goals to the exclusion of all else. They are constantly telling you about how they stopped eating meat, became a vegan, stopped eating sugar to the exclusion of all fruits, or lost so much weight; they’ve become physically what the pre-twenty-first society would consider anorexic.

I’m not saying setting goals to be healthier are all bad, quite the contrary. I’m suggesting there has to be an easier way to reach goals in peace and contentment while still pushing higher and improving one’s life. Would knowing and understanding how valuable intentions are as compared to what we know as goal setting and achievement round-out self-improvement?

We should understand what the differences are between goal setting and Intention.

I did a little digging and found a great article titled, “The Difference Between Intentions VS. Goals.”  The author, Elise Moreau, understands a lot about Yoga and being able to “set your intention” at the beginning of practice.

Elise explained what Intention is: “…you can think of intention as your energetic starting point in its purest form for your goal. It’s that powerfully authentic vow that comes from your core. It goes deeper than the mind and comes from a state of pure awareness.” The best way to achieve such awareness is to meditate, according to Elise.

Then “An intention may be revealed to you in a way that makes it as simple as saying “I will breathe fully,” or “let me be strong.” It may also be more emotional than physical, like “I release all my fears,” or “let me embrace vulnerability.”

When I was younger, I got the feeling that constantly reaching for more and setting higher and higher goals was creating in me a feeling that what I was now was not “enough.” In a sense, I was victimized by the notion that if I didn’t set constant goals and was not working to achieve them, I wasn’t sufficient.

I had to find some type of happy and delightful middle ground, a compromise between setting goals and accepting me for who I was, how fast I changed, and who I would become in the future. Thank goodness I’ve learned about living with intentions.

What is living your intentions?

From an article I found on Ted* titled, “3 Differences Between Goals and Intentions,” the author, Debbie said, “Living your intentions … is much different than having a goal-oriented focus. Being intentional allows you to focus on how you want to be in the moment, independent of whether you are winning or losing. Allowing intentions to guide your moment to moment focus, means you are living your values and what matters most to you.”

It has a lot to do with what you value, what are your core beliefs? Some might be:

  • Are you a believer in self-achievement coming from a place within you totally and not from any type of Higher Power?
  • Are you extremely religious and nothing will help you achieve your goals unless they are ordained by God, or it’s God’s will for you?
  • Or are you split down the middle. You can achieve goals relative to your life on your own power AND with the help of an all-powerful Being by your side?

Whatever core belief you have about self-improvement, you can partner your goals with intentions. Debbie suggested in her article, “… you will become one of the few people in life who enjoy the journey as much as the destination.”

I’m all for enjoying my journey without the overpowering and constant need to be doing something else, move forward, or push toward the next mountain without thought for the moment.”

Below are Debbie’s differences between goal setting and intentions:

  1. Goals are focused on the future. Intentions are in the present moment.
  2. Goals are a destination or specific achievement. Intentions are lived each day, independent of reaching the goal or destination.
  3. Goals are external achievements. Intentions are your inner-relationships with yourself and others. 

Debbie uses the example of mixing goals with intentions in her and her husband’s goal to reach the summit of a mountain to enjoy the extraordinary view from the top. The goal is the hike and her intention is “to be present to the sights and smells along the trail, noticing the beauty of the plants and unexpected vistas with each twist in the trail.

Even if the Northwest fog unexpectedly rolls in, our intention to enjoy one another and nature’s beauty can be fulfilled.”

But I really like her final comment about returning home without reaching the summit. They didn’t feel victimized by not reaching her goal, “…but as Creators, fulfilling our intention.”

How can “living with Intention” help us as writers?

I want to finish editing my next book in a series of 1950s pulp-fiction type stories. I have a goal of editing the book one more time before it goes to the final editor.

I want it to be perfect. Unfortunately, I can’t make it perfect on my own.

I’m too close to the story. I have the goal of making it perfect, but along the way, I had to add in my intentions for the progression.

I want to enjoy the editing process, thrill to the story I’ve told, fix what I can fix, polish my writing and editing skills, and feel contented in what I’ve created. My future goal = a polished book. My in-the-moment intentions = joy in the instant of editing.

I am a Creator of my intentions. I will feel at peace even though I haven’t yet met my goal of a fully edited manuscript. I will not be victimized by not reaching my goal. Living with Intentions will help me accomplish both – the editing and enjoying the beauty of the journey.

Where are you in your journey?

Are you stuck with goals that are too high, too demanding, or too demeaning? Do you need to refocus on your intentions? Michael Hague has a lot of great articles on goal setting and making and keeping New Year’s Resolutions. This year he mentioned working out our goals with intentions.

Here are Michael Hyatt’s simple suggestions:

It’s easy to set a goal, get excited and then go right back on autopilot with old behaviors that get you the same old results.

  • Don’t be mad at yourself … get curious.
  • Turn thoughts like … “Why can’t I reach this goal?” into “How can I reach this goal?”
  • Be compassionate with yourself because change is hard and takes focus, commitment and persistence.

I hope you’ve gained some new insight from my discussion about living with intentions along with setting goals. You might discover how to combine together the strength of setting goals with the softer, purer joy of discovering your valuable – in-the-moment intentions.

Then, even if you don’t reach your lofty goals right away, you will feel more enriched, inspired, and gain purpose along your path.


“Intentions have no limits, they are expansive, they can make you more effective, they can help you get out of your head, open your eyes to the things you may have otherwise missed, and can include global contributions.”

This was taken from an article at by Marla Tabaka, “Setting Goals Isn’t Enough: Setting Daily Intentions Will Change Your Life.

Allow your intentions to help you make small, but powerful changes to your writing. I’d like to know if you find a difference in your goal setting. Please comment below if you do.



Author, Carol MaloneAn award-winning author, Carol Malone writes new-pulp-fiction suspense kissed with romance that rockets readers into the past to uncover a hard-fought happily-ever-after. If not hammering out new tales, Carol is reading, watching the Dodgers, reruns of Castle, and the Food Network with her sci-fi author husband on the coast of California. She loves to connect with her readers and invites them to chat about romance and sports on her website.




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