In this month’s November newsletter, I talked about setting daily and monthly intentions. While I was writing about resetting my intentions for the month of November I thought about how intentions and goals differ and how important they are to coexist for balance in our lives. My perspective is that goals and intentions are a bit like Yin and Yang. Goals are Yang and Intentions are Yin. Goals can fire us up and Intentions can soothe our souls.
Goal setting is wonderful thing. It allows us to a put concrete plans of action in place with the desire to reach them. You set a goal and work towards achieving it. The goal keeps us on track, keeps us committed to reaching it because we want to achieve it. They can fire us and get us going; to keep us going when things get tough and we want to quit. Goals are wonderful and necessary to our lives; we all need some Yang.
Unfortunately, only having Yang with no Yin is not a balanced healthy way to live. Very much in the same way only having goals without an intention is not always the healthiest most balanced way to live.
For example, I may set a goal to get a promotion. I work really hard to achieve this goal. I work late and extra to make deadlines, I take leadership courses, I’m working late into the evenings, I’m working on the weekends. All this work is just till I reach that goal, I get that promotion. I may begin to feel tired and worn out, but that’s ok because I am proving myself. I am going to achieve this. I have everything set out for me to be successful. I have postponed dinners with friends and family, vacations, work outs, maybe even my nutrition in the purpose of achieving my goal. I tell myself “It’s ok”, this isn’t permeant. We tell ourselves “ I can do anything for a year” for “a month”. Sure, I guess I can, but does that sound balance, does that feel balanced?
Here is the thing, I might get that promotion but I might not. I worked hard, I made sacrifices, and it paid off or maybe it didn’t. So now what? Does the outcome always justify the means? Maybe your answer is always going to be yes. I can tell you at a time in my life my answer was always yes. Until I began to feel exhausted and burned out. I wasn’t feeling very balanced.
This is when a little Yin can go a long way. I am not suggesting that you forgo setting goals and hard work. In fact I am suggesting just the opposite. Set your goal, outline your plan of action, and in that plan insert some space for your intentions (your Yin).
I described an intention as being softer and more quiet. If a goal sounds like a coach yelling at you’re from the side lines, then an intention is your grandmother’s hug. Soft, loving, and subtle. There is no achieving an intention. There is no conquering an intention. If you cannot achieve or conquer you cannot fail. You can only honor it. You can try to honor your heart’s desire. Allowing the intention to ground you back in your present moment so you not miss a minute of what is real.
My intention that I set for the month of November is be kinder and gentler with myself. To move more slowly with both, play and work in my life. For me that means filling my week with self-care. To walk the dogs, to read, to connect with my yoga practice, and to watch Netflix (when in balance this is not a bad thing, more on that later).
Last month I had some amazing things happening at work, and a lot of fun stuff on the weekends. I traveled multiple weekends in a row, and I worked the other weekends. I was busy moving and doing things that it didn’t allow a lot of time for stillness. And guess what? I was sick with a head cold and migraines most of the month. Literally most of the month, that’s 30 whole days, I pretty much felt like crap.
Now I am not saying let’s throw all goals to the wind. Let’s run around being free and allowing ourselves to blow where we may. As nice as that might sound at first, we would be a world of unproductive people without any ambition. Goals are great. They help keep us on track to keep us focused. The thing is being able to maintain our energy, have a lower level of stress, feel healthier and happier we need some Yin to all that Yang.
Intentions provide the balance to our goals. They nourish our heart’s desires and keep us healthy. They allow us to take time for self-care, to recharge, and reconnect with ourselves. Without one or the other things are not in balance in our life. We get caught up in the doing and miss out on the wonderfulness of the non-doing.
Hello! Welcome to my Blog on self care . I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Registered Yoga Teacher.