I used to make lists every December of the things I wanted in the coming year. They were usually pretty similar, year on year …..

1. Lose half a stone
2. Cut out sugar
3. Swim three times a week
2. Meet love of my life and settle down
3. Double last year’s income….

And so on……

How successful do you think I was? Not very. Yes, I did manage to cut out sugar for a week or so. I never met the love of my life….. and while my income went up a bit, it didn’t exactly double. And the swimming? Well, January is just too cold for swimming pools, don’t you think?

The other thing I noticed was that I wouldn’t feel very good about myself. In fact, I’d feel quite low, a bit self-doubting and thinking what’s the point – I can never do what I say I’m going to do. Pass the wine and what’s on the┬átelly?

I’d found myself trusting myself a bit less and thinking I was hopeless at keeping my word with myself. And although I was pretty good at keeping my agreements with others I was really pretty dire at keeping them with myself.

Result? Lower self-esteem and self-trust and I didn’t even lose the half a stone.

So as I am someone who likes to learn and develop myself I read, I went to seminars and I thought I would experiment with a different approach.

I decided I would think about the kind of inner experiences I wanted in the coming year – how I wanted to feel. And I tried writing them down in December – so they were more of an intention rather than a tick this box. I saw there were lots of ways I could move towards the intentions.

For example, I decided a few years ago I needed much less stress in my life (my health was shouting loudly at me that I needed to do something). So my New Year’s intention was for more calm and relaxation. There were many ways I worked with that – more meditation, more massages, singing (super relaxing for me!), more breaks from work, walking…

On the health front, I still wanted to be thinner (surprise!) but I also wanted to judge my body less. So my intention became accepting and taking good care of my body. Again, lots of ways to work with that – I ate more veg, went to Pilates, used body lotion!

And the love of my life? Well, I really looked at what I really wanted. I wanted to have that sense of belonging, of loving and giving and receiving and having more fun with people.

So how did it go?

I had success with all of them!!!!! Not 100% because life is always a work in progress, but enough to make me feel like I was moving forward. And I love this intention thing – it really works for me.

None of this is to say I am anti-goal setting. I’ve had many times in my life where I have set goals and succeeded – like running a marathon with very little training, to facilitate seminars with Insight all around the world – a huge dream. The early stages of adulthood, when we are starting to make our way in the world is a prime time for goal-setting.

But to quote Anthony Robbins, Peak Performance Expert,

Goals are a means to an end, not the ultimate purpose of our lives. They are simply a tool to concentrate our focus and move us in a direction. The only reason we really pursue goals is to cause ourselves to expand and grow. Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term; it’s who you become, as you overcome the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals, that can give you the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfilment.