Inspired goals: how I set my intentions each year

Plans are more about our relationship with life and less about checklists.

In an age of systems, structures, and societal standards, we subconsciously set aside our true dreams to submit to expectations. We plan our life in routes, numbers, and destinations, but we forget to bring our compass. We forget to connect with our wishes and be inspired by them, long after the fire of passion burned out.

It doesn’t have to be so.

We are allowed to have mushy, qualitative goals. If plans are more about our relationship with life and less about checklists, then why can’t we tune in to how our plans feel to us?

In this intuitive approach to goal-setting, Inspired Goals harnesses intuition, mindfulness, inspiration, and intentionality to make dreams happen. No more setting goals just because. Let’s try setting goals just because they make us feel good about life.

Q: Why set goals if I’m not a “systems person?”

It gives you purpose. Having goals gives you something to strive towards, an end that you must reach. When you have a goal in mind, your thoughts and your actions become tailored towards reaching that goal.

It allows you to take control. It’s easy to drift through life without any semblance of what you want out of it, or what you want your life to mean. When you have a plan in mind, you can take control of your life.

You gain accountability. When you set goals, you realize you simply can’t wait for someone else to achieve them for you. You must take action for yourself and take responsibility for those convictions.

You accomplish more, better. Setting goals means wanting more out of your life. They invoke change; they are means of improvement for yourself or the life you’re living.

You get closer to your dream life. When you make plans and constantly work to achieve them, you strive to get the best out of your life.

I want to give sensitive goal-getters a more personal, less aggressive method to inspire your hustle. To not leave you out of the planning life because the existing systems don’t work for you. To prove that gut and goals can go together.

The thing about intuition is it’s always right on some level. Aside from making us softer and more compassionate, intuition gives us natural, infallible guidance. When we subscribe to systems to plan our lives (which aren’t bad!), we put ourselves at slight risk of subscribing to societal standards and expectations that we do things for doing things’ sake.

When we tune in to our instincts for dreaming, we get in touch with what our heart really wants to achieve, which then drives us to be more inspired in the pursuit of getting it.

#1. Areas of focus

Are you familiar with the Level 10 Life exercise? If you’re the note-taking type, this might be interesting to you.

The steps are to pick ten areas of your life you want to feel fulfilled in, and fill in up to what “level” of accomplishment you are currently in. The goal is to reach Level 10 in all 10 areas. 10 x 10 = 100% fulfilled.

For Inspired Goals, we’re only doing the first step. Pick a few areas of your life you think you’ll be experiencing or focusing on for the time period you set—a year, a month, etc.

What’s the difference between experiencing and focus? Pretty simple. Experiencing = passive. Focusing = active.

Focus Areas are those you’ll be purposely exerting effort into, like Skills & Projects.

Experience Areas are those that aren’t hard plans, but which you’re sure you’ll be passing by, like Relationships.

My accountability partner Sonya had 3 areas: Freelance/Career, Self-Development, and Self-Care. I had 10. There’s no wrong number, as long as you’re confident you’re balancing your energy well between focus and experience.

You may subcategorize (ex. Skills, Blogging, Projects, under Creativity) but only if you feel the need to be specific.

Think this through carefully without tipping into overanalysis. Unlike the Level 10 Life exercise, we aren’t planning for life; we’re just focusing on key areas we’re passing through for a time. Marriage/Family is a major goal of mine in the future, but it didn’t get any place on my 2018 goals.

Just write what comes to mind for now (that’s your intuition at work!), and stop when your instinct has stopped naming categories.

#2. Sentimental success

For me, this section is the most inspiration-building of them all.

As per Sofia Cope, sentimental success statements are emotional, intangible, and unmeasurable. They’re valuable because they connect, more than they function in the societal sense of the latter.

Set an intention or sentimental success statement per area you just listed down. Be guided by the following:

  1. When all is said and done, how do you want to feel about this area of life?
  2. Why is this area on your list? Why is it a priority and what do you want to do with the space you’re giving it in your life?
  3. Given the energy you’re spending on this, what emotional reward are you hoping for?

Examples of intangible intentions:

  • Expand what I know, explore what I don’t know.
  • Create lovingly.
  • Enjoy life without financial cost.

Allow yourself to come up with cheesy, Instagram-worthy motivational quotes because these are what will keep you going and inspired after passion has burned out.

#3. Hard & soft goals

Despite what I said about sentiment and intuitiveness, there’s a time to get measurable. Caveat: measurable doesn’t have to be hard-set in stone. Let’s go step by step.

List goals per area of life, and mark them as soft goals, hard goals, or restrictions.

What’s the distinction?

Soft goals will accomplish your intention while being malleable and amenable to change. These could be bonus goals, something you’ll forgive yourself for not fulfilling to the letter. Examples of soft goals are “Read more or less 6 books this year,” but in my heart of hearts I know I’ll be okay if I don’t read at all. (Or okay, maybe not, but I’ll forgive myself for reading just 1 or 2.)

Hard goals will accomplish your intention and are non-negotiable, like paying off your credit card debt.

Set restrictions on things that may impede your intentions. If you’re paying off debt, major purchases like a new laptop are a no-no this year unless the case of total emergency.

What’s important is that you decide which goals are set in stone, which goals are open to change or even erasure, and which goals are actually anti-impediments.

Not every area has to have both goals or a restriction. Some may have only soft goals, only restrictions, and others will have two or all of the three.


  • Travel. Intention: Tread carefully and meaningfully.
  • Soft goal: Get out of the city once or twice.
  • Hard goal: Do an art & writing retreat.
  • Restriction: When traveling, spend as little as possible.

That’s up to you. There’s no correct template you’re forced to fill up. Go where the energy is.

#4. Feedback exchange

This is an intuitive share. Exchange goals and feedback/advice with a friend.

The objective is an obvious one: get a fresh pair of eyes and ears, and let their intuition guide you with things you may have missed or omitted because your systems-and-expectations mode was kicking in.

They may tell you to be more measurable or more sentimental with certain goals, in a way that they feel will help you.

My partner and I also exchanged concrete ideas that may help accomplish one or more of our goals. With her goal of “Figure out my career path,” I recommended a free 30-minute life coaching consultation I knew of. With my goal of exploring what I don’t know, she encouraged me to try vlogging as a soft goal.

Our intuition isn’t perfect or whole, especially when we’re in the infant stages of building a relationship. Sharing intuitive thoughts increases our chances of connecting with some deeper truth.

#5. Reassess (in the future)

Sit down (maybe with your partner from the previous step) every month, quarter and/or year.

  1. Have your circumstances changed?
  2. Have your perspectives, attitudes and priorities changed?

Adjust your goals to your sentiment. Do not adjust your sentiment to your goals. Try not to change your sentiment at all, because this is your compass when the map gets you lost.

It can be tedious to reassess so regularly, but this is important because this keeps your goal-oriented mindset intact while preserving your freedom to change goals.

That’s what I tried to make so unique about this exercise. Instead of forcing yourself to follow-through on your goals, you maintain your sentiment as your destination and give yourself room to change routes along the way.

Don’t forget to follow your intuition again when you reevaluate.

  1. Shed what isn’t working.
  2. Change the concrete steps to achieving your sentiment.
  3. Try and recharge before you give up on goals completely.
  4. Do a reverse bucket list, i.e. list the things you’ve accomplished so far, especially the achievements that weren’t originally in your plans. Let these inspire what new things to explore that you didn’t consider before.


If the flexibility of the guide got in your way, here’s a concrete, actionable, but non-expounded recap of the steps we took:

  1. Choose areas of focus (active participation) and experience (passive participation).
  2. Set sentimental, expansion-focused intentions per area.
  3. Set hard goals (non-negotiables), soft goals (bonuses), and restrictions (potential impediments).
  4. Trade goals with someone who went through the same exercise, and show support through advice and encouragement.
  5. Reevaluate where you stand every so often, hopefully with your accountability partner.

Intuition comes into play against overanalysis and external conditioning. The result is inspired and inspirational goals. We become more forgiving of ourselves regarding our goals when we can trust our plans as steps to improving our relationship with life, over ticking numbered items off a bucket list.

Explore the wild.

That’s it. You have your compass, and a very rough roadmap you may or may not follow to the letter. Go out into the wild, wicked world and learn more about yourself with your hopes as your guide. If you get lost, just follow your internal (your intuition) and external (your sentiments) compass.

Be stubborn about your goals, but flexible with your methods.

Love and light,

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