Having a purpose is essential for a meaningful life and equates to having intentional goals. While mindfulness teaches us to live in the present moment, envisaging the future we want to live in is good for our mental health because it gives us focus and something to look forward to.

Intentional goals are identifiable goals that you intend to pursue and attain by acting now – not tomorrow. They also need to be clear and specific. Saying that you want to lose weight, for example, is too vague. A more specific goal would be that you intend to lose a kilo by a set date.

Fear of failure can sometimes stop us from working towards intentional goals. However, failure is part and parcel of success; success is the destination, while failure is the pathway along which we travel. Unfortunately, we’ve been trained from an early age to think of failure as an indication that we’re not good enough or will never succeed. But that’s simply not the case – failure is a necessary stepping-stone to success, and we need to view it as such. Below are steps to how we can work towards achieving our intentional goals:

Plan and act
Some people know exactly what they want in life and set out to achieve it. Others have good intentions but never quite get round to doing anything about them. Perhaps you plan things in your head and promise to start properly once Christmas / Easter/ New Year is over. Or maybe you discuss your idea endlessly with a friend or partner. While discussion and thinking are useful, achieving your goal requires planning and action, so determine what steps are necessary to achieving your goal and start working on them.

Commit it to paper
It’s funny how writing something down can make it almost tangible, so write your goal out and place it somewhere prominent where you will see it every day, such as the fridge door. A word of warning – do not file it in a drawer or it will inevitably get forgotten.

Create a timeline
A visual marker, with completion dates for the tasks which form the steps towards your goal, will motivate you and keep you on schedule. Breaking your goal down into short term objectives will also make it seem less overwhelming. For example, one of your steps might be to save $50.00 each month. Once you’ve determined this, it’s time to start working on making it happen.

Monitor your progress
You might place a tick on the calendar every time you walk a certain number of steps in a day or set up a spreadsheet to show how much you’ve saved each month. Recording your interim goals as you achieve them enables you to see the progress you’re making, thereby keeping you motivated.

Be flexible
Keep sight of the bigger picture Intentional goals are a good thing, but they can have drawbacks. Sometimes we can be so focused on our goal that we fail to take advantage of opportunities which would help us to achieve it, simply because they weren’t part of our original plan.
For many of us, our daily routines changed as we worked remotely from home, attended meetings via Teams and schooled our children at the kitchen table. It wasn’t the way we had planned to do things, but by being flexible we still managed to achieve what we set out to do. And in some instances, being flexible in the face of adversity enabled people to achieve more than they planned. While many businesses struggled during the lockdown, some adapted to become even more successful. So, while it’s important to remain focused on our goals, it’s vital that we don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.