Have you ever thought about the difference between goals and intentions? Goals are about the future, and what we plan to do about getting there, specifically to the future we desire to manifest.
I have written before about the importance of having clear relationship goals in order to end up in a partnership that is fulfilling to you. Goals are key, but there is more.
Setting goals is about visualizing an ideal future. In setting intentions, however, the focus is not on the future, but on the present moment. This is more about living with integrity and aligning yourself (your actions, thoughts, and attitudes) with your own values in the “now.”
I recently read an inspirational article by Phillip Moffitt the founder of the Life Balance Institute. He got me thinking about the importance of setting intentions. He bases much of his thinking on the fundamentals of the Buddha’s 8-fold Path. Whatever your philosophical or spiritual bent, I think it is not much of a stretch to say the Buddha had great wisdom to share with all of us.
On the 8-fold path, number four is: Right Intention – how to be mindful with ourselves and others about the intentions behind our actions, words, and even thoughts. How does the Buddhist principle of “right intention” relate to your search for an ideal mate? Bear with me.
Sometimes, when the frustrations of life seem to pile up at an exponential rate, we can, for lack of a better term, get seriously bummed out and feel like nothing is going our way. In dating, it happens all the time. You go on a date with someone for the first time and it is pretty much a disaster. You might think something like this: “If only he hadn’t been so fixated on how great he was, we might have connected.” Or: “If only she were a little less pushy about what she wants and how she wants it. She kind of emasculated me.” We end up feeling victimized by the other person’s issues and the circumstances surrounding the situation.
Though goal setting is hugely important, and visualizing your ideal mate and ideal relationship is part of the package, setting your own intentions is just as crucial. Moffitt writes, “Your happiness comes from the strength of your internal experience of intention.” What would happen if you set the intention of being compassionate. Not just with others but with yourself as well. It makes a certain amount of sense that doing so will lead to an attitude shift that could clear the way for you to reach your goals. In fact, acting from your true intentions is guaranteed to help you reach your goals.
Looking at the above examples through the “intentions lens” you might realize, with compassion, that the chronically self-aggrandizing man is simply insecure and unable to trust that you like him for himself. Thus, he brags. It’s a shame, and it does not change the fact that he bored you, but instead of feeling victimized by the situation, you can look with compassion at yourself, and at him, and move on. The pushy woman, you might insightfully realize, is unable to trust. Her need for control is a symptom of that inability. If she loses control, who else can she rely on? Once you see this sad truth, you do not feel emasculated, but are able to move on, with understanding and empathy, and find someone better suited to you.
This New Year, rather than resolving with goals in mind, make your resolutions based on setting your intentions.
Do not judge yourself. Realize you are not and can’t be perfect. And then settle in your mind your intentions for yourself, your actions, and your thoughts. Some pitfalls to avoid in setting intentions are setting intentions for others and letting mixed motives fuel your intentions. If you find that your intentions involve having an agenda for someone else, they are not truly your intentions. If your motive is based in selfishness, greed, anger, or resentment, the intention will be muddied.
As someone seeking a meaningful and enjoyable relationship, set the intention to be the best date, partner, friend you can be. What is your intention for yourself in a relationship– is it based on being honorable, loving, supportive, fun, non-judgmental, empowering…? How do you want to show up for another person?
Setting intentions and having goals will enable you to proceed from a place of understanding and compassion, with an open heart and mind. As you move through your days, touch base with yourself.