Set intentions for your life and leadership journey


Warning: for some of you, this post may seem very challenging. The thought of not having personal New Year goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely may be frightening to you. So be it. It’s part of my journey. All I ask is that you read it, and consider if this might work for you.


Several years ago, I had a year of many endings. All in one year, there were two untimely deaths within my family (three if you count my beloved dog), I left my corporate job, and my youngest daughter started college. These were all stark reminders about how short life is. Those reminders nurtured a stronger desire to do something that would make a positive impact in the world.

It was the beginning of a journey without goals. Without the structure of the corporation, I felt free to decide how I wanted to work and live. I didn’t set goals – I set intentions. I’d learned that some lofty goals I’d set just weren’t a good fit for me and I felt badly when they weren’t attained. I’d realized that most things worth doing in life didn’t have endpoints, but instead will be part of a lifelong journey.

I wanted some way to become aware of my imperfect progress as a business owner AND a human being that was fluid; I wanted to be more aware, in the moment, of changes in myself and the world around me.

I’m never disappointed with my progress on these intentions. They carry over from year to year, and I learn and develop in the time that is appropriate. I rarely become impatient because every year there is some progress – and it’s always just as much progress as I can handle. The only endpoint to this evolution will be at the end of my life.

Start the New Year by setting intentions, not goals. You will breathe new energy into your life and leadership that will help you to grow and develop. Set some intentions for your growth as a human as well as a leader being by:

Discovering your strengths and your weaknesses: Work hard to develop an understanding of yourself, including what you do well and where you need to improve to become the best human being you can possibly be. This is the foundation for leading at your very best. Set intentions to use your strengths and minimize your weaknesses whenever you can.

Discerning your core values: Values form the beginning of living a life of purpose. What you value sets a roadmap for how you will live your life as well as how you lead. Make your values fully conscious, use them whenever you act, interact, or make a decision. Notice how they make your actions flow from the heart. Set an intention to keep from straying from those values that are near and dear to you.

Working to understand others: Making the effort to open the door for understanding others can lead you to an amazing place where those who follow you are energized by the work they do and accomplish more than you can possibly imagine. Set intentions to slow down and listen deeply; to be curious about others and to set your judgments about them aside.

P.S. My intentions since that year of change have been (and will continue to be):

  • To recognize when control is an illusion and work to let go of it
  • To eliminate the judgments I make about others
  • To better understand how love works in my life and how I might express it more fully to others


Happy New Year!



I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

2 comments on “Set intentions for your life and leadership journey

  1. Mary Jo

    Love your opening warning – so true!

    I have experienced much of the same when it comes to setting goals. I set pretty big goals and then get v very disheartened when I don’t ‘achieve’

    Am applying the intention concept in a way and after reading this am going to put a lot more practice into this

    Thanks for the inspiration

Comments are closed.