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Fifty by Fifty - On Setting Intentions

In my last blog I talked about a goal setting technique: Setting EXACT Goals. This is a great way of making sure that the activities you do, and the choices you make, day-to-day are trending in the right direction.

But how do you make sure that you show up correctly for all the steps that lead towards your goal?

Picture of a moorland trail with white clouds against a blue sky
Recent Trail Running Picture - Wensleydale, Yorkshire

This is where a different technique (borrowed from yoga/meditation) can come in handy. The technique of setting an intention before an activity. It's powerful and something you need zero hours training to learn how to do.

Regular readers know that I am using coaching techniques and practices to help me train towards my goal of running 50 miles before I am 50. You don't need to be an expert to know that this means I need to do regular training runs. These are scheduled in my calendar with notes like "long run -15 miles". This means that I know when I wake up in the morning what my short term goal is.

But that's a goal, not an intention.

An intention is something more like "I am going to be present as much as possible during this run", or "I want to feel refreshed at the end of this", or "I am going to allow myself this time without feeling guilty." In other words an intention speaks to the experience you want to have, rather than the result.

The benefit of setting an intention is that it forms a deeper connection with your inner self and with your current mood and feelings. It also helps you to make meaningful connections with your environment and the people within it.

Sounds simple, right? It is, but the hard part is taking the time to do it. If you are anything like me, when you decide to dedicate some time to something you pretty much want to get on with it. If I have an hour to run, I want to use that hour to run. It's precious.

But, if I take a moment (sometimes a whole minute) to set an intention before I start, I am always more satisfied with the outcome and the experience. And so, I sit, I take a moment to clear my mind and I see what arises. I ask myself, what does my mind and my body need from this next task? As soon as that's clear, I set off, with a clear purpose and a spring in my step.


You can also use this technique in a work context. I do it all the time, particularly before meetings or events. I find a quiet spot (often a toilet cubicle) where I can sit and just be for a minute or two to figure out my intention. That usually just means tuning in to what is coming up for me and the people around me at that time.

For example, one particularly stressful day for my team recently, I set the intention to "hold the space for others" during a meeting. I still participated and did all of the practical things I needed to, but this unspoken extra layer made me a much better contributor and made me feel very centred, despite the pressure we were all under. Later I was thanked for my "leadership" by one of the attendees which was a lovely reflection, as my intention had been quite different.

So you see, it really works. When will you give it a try?


One of my goals is to coach myself, using the same sorts of techniques I use with clients. I'll be sharing blogs about this that you might learn from too. So please follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn if you want to know more and share this with people who might be interested. I appreciate the support.

But if this inspires you in any way, what I'd really like you do do is to help me support Women's Health Matters. This small charity is based in Leeds where I work and often train. It is run by wonderful people (including a good friend) who work hard every day to help at risk women and girls to make paths to freedom and a better life. Anything you can give, however small, will make a big difference in somebody's life.

£5 - A bus ticket for an asylum seeker to attend group for vital health and wellbeing support​

£10 - A girl experiencing domestic abuse to access an intensive support session​

£20 - Helps support a woman in crisis to find safe overnight accommodation

£50 - Provides creche facilities to enable mums experiencing domestic abuse to attend a support group

So, please donate now, as much as you can.

Thank you. Peace.


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