As an entrepreneur, it is essential to set goals to achieve the results you desire. However, women often put so much pressure on themselves for achieving a certain milestone or metric in the form of a goal that goals can sometimes be counterproductive. Let me explain.
Goals can inadvertently make us feel like a failure. We either hit the $10k month or we didn't. Traditional goal-setting often plays into the black/white mentality that is so pervasive in our society. These types of goals don't leave a lot of room for all the beautiful colors in between where we may not have hit the exact goal we wanted but we succeeded in other ways. For example, maybe you didn't hit your goal of $10k this month but you set up 20 meetings with prospects that could lead to $30k next month. Getting down on yourself for not hitting your original goal of $10k could rob you of celebrating the 20 prospect meetings you worked hard to achieve that may even result in more revenue in the long run.
Intentions, on the other hand, are less shame-based and offer more opportunity to feel a sense of accomplishment. Or as I like to say, they leave more room for magic. Those little surprises that help us generate income or increase our influence in ways we didn't expect. For example, you might have the goal "book 5 clients this month" when in reality what you desire is to make money in a way that feels energizing and aligned. Maybe booking 5 clients will feel energizing and aligned but maybe there's a speaking opportunity for the same amount of money that would feel even more energizing and aligned. You don't want to be so focused on booking your 5 clients that you 1) book clients who aren't aligned and suck the life out of you or 2) miss that amazing speaking opportunity. It's a practice of detaching from the outcome and believing in the infinite possibilities that are available to us at any given time.
Intentions not only offer a more compassionate way to set goals but there have been studies that look at psi (a general way to describe types of communication or information transfer that defy common understanding of time and space), which suggest that conscious intention (e.g. thoughts and feelings) influences unconscious activity. In fact, our eyes receive and process 10 million bits of information per second but we only consciously engage with 16 of them. This means we are only aware of a fraction of the information that is at our fingertips. Part of our work is to learn how to expand our awareness through practices like meditation. The other part is to simply believe there is more than meets the eye.
Here are 6 ways to use intention-setting to elevate your business goals:
1. Create a vision board for your business - vision boards are all the rage these days and there's a reason why. Have you ever considered creating a vision board specifically for your business? It can be a fun way to uncover what you desire your business to look and feel like and where you want to focus your attention. Especially if you find yourself too much in your head, spending time to reconnect with your bigger mission through imagery can be incredibly rewarding. Let your imagination run wild.
2. Schedule a monthly intention-setting party - it can be fun to get together with your fellow lady bosses once a month and share your intentions with each other. You can ask each other questions like: Where do you desire to focus your energy? What was your biggest learning from the previous month? What do you hope to celebrate at the end of this month?
3. Outline your ideal day as CEO - as an entrepreneur, it is important to be clear on what your ideal day as CEO would look and feel like. Otherwise, we can get side-tracked from our bigger vision of life and business by spending our days responding to low-priority emails, scheduling meetings over meal times, and slipping back into old workaholic routines. Setting your own schedule is one of the greatest perks of being an entrepreneur so take time to make this happen. Ask yourself: How many hours do I want to work every day? What would my dream mornings look like? How often do I want to work out each week? When am I most productive? How important is it to practice daily self-care?
4. Choose a word of the week - intention-setting doesn't have to be overwhelming. It can be as simple as choosing a word of the week like "confidence", "focus", "trust", "joy", "visibility", or "play." This is a great way to stay committed to an intention without having to do anything too elaborate. Try writing your word in your journal, putting it on a sticky note on your computer, or creating a calendar reminder so you see it daily.
5. Claim your superpower - in the midst of trying to achieve goals, it is easy to focus on where you are falling short and forget how amazing you are. Take some time to remind yourself what you are truly gifted at. What is your superpower? Is it navigating difficult conversations? Is it getting people to view something differently? Is it your strong intuition? Is it your coding skills? In the fast pace of entrepreneur life, don't forget to celebrate all the ways that you are shining.
6. Visualize yourself in 5 years - taking a step back to imagine where you would like to be in 5 years can be a powerful exercise. This isn't about knowing all the answers but tapping into the essence of your big dreams. We can get so caught up in the day-to-day activities of running a business that we lose sight of where we want to go. Take a moment to close your eyes and picture yourself 5 years from this moment. Where are you? What are you doing? What is the impact you are making? Who is around you? How do you feel? What wisdom does your future self want your younger self to know?
To all of my fellow hustlers out there, don't let your business goals be a cause of stress or shame. Weave some intention-setting into your business strategy because it's not only a fun way to stay focused but science is telling us there is real power putting words to positive changes we wish to make in our life.
By: Elizabeth Su
Elizabeth Su is a life coach and mindfulness expert who mentors high-achieving women around the world to unlock their potential, lean into joy, and live life to the fullest. I am currently pursuing my Masters in Clinical Psychology (concentration in Spirituality Mind Body) and an advanced certificate in Sexuality, Women, and Gender from Columbia University. I have been featured in numerous media outlets including OZY, Fatherly, Bustle, PopSugar, Elite Daily, and Thought Catalog for my work around marriage mindfulness, female empowerment, and navigating your own path to happiness.