crazy thoughts, self care, Strategies

Intention: Dreaming or Goal Setting?

Intention, Intention Setting. One word, mantra, guide, goal, dream, vision, plan, resolution, new year, new year's resolution,

Is the latest in New Year planning more the stuff of dreams than goals? Is setting Intention really making a plan? Thought without Action? Or do I have Trust issues?

Don’t get me wrong. I intend for great things to happen this year. I want: to be healthier; to be happier; to be more successful in my business; my family to function better in all ways.

But, don’t we all?

It seems as those perfect vague ideals are the stuff of dreams – not goals.

The related intention words Health, Happy, Success, or Family may indeed set me on a path but I am not sure they help my creative ADHD brain take the first step toward the chosen destination.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Like many neurodiverse, creative sorts, I tend to have BIG dreams. And BIG ideas.

That never seem to go anywhere.

I have recently been introduced to the term ‘Analysis Paralysis.’ While typically applied to decision making, the term easily applies to my rabbit hole way of thinking with almost every idea that pops into my head. My fast moving, creative, ADHD brain makes an idea bigger and BIGGER until I can’t fathom how I could possibly achieve such a thing.

Imagine a lively, quick brainstorming session taking place. But inside a pinball machine.

stress, overwhelmed, big, too big, confused, busy, too busy, confusion“Oh. I like that. You know what else we could do…?”

“Love it! And then we could…”

“Oooooo. I know! We should…”

“Totally! And then we will….”

And. And. And.

BING…BING! BING-BING! Lights Flashing! It is going to be AH-MAZING!

Until it gets so big it is overwhelming.

And nothing happens.


A Simple Plan

I remember a discussion with a friend, sharing the realization that my life would be so much less stressful with a meal plan. I could reduce all the time thinking and stressing about what we were going to eat every darn day by just having a plan.

A simple plan.

Except then I thought, ‘Why plan tomorrow when I can plan the whole week?’ I would make the plan for a week. No, a month. And I would try to find recipes that used some similar ingredients to reduce costs and time. And then prep the ingredients for those dishes on the same day so they would be ready for a recipe later in the month. Labelled clearly in my newly organized freezer system. I could post the menu clearly in the kitchen so the whole family could see it. On a cute little chalkboard. And then I would colour code the type of protein. And maybe teach the kids to make some meals.

And. And. And.

And what do you think happened?

My friend went home and made a meal plan for her week. And then did it again the next week. Until she had 52 weeks of meal plans and I had….


Baby Steps

So, if I am going to move forward, I need to break things into small, doable bits so I can succeed.

Baby Steps. Slow and Steady wins the race. One Step at a Time.

Choose your favourite motivational cliche – the message remains the same: small, manageable goals.

Goal Setting with One Word? Perfect for me, right?


Goal Setting with One Word

mandala, guide, direct, intention, resolution, spiritual, universe trust, ornamental, round, lace, pattern, circle,Intention setting is a personal mandala of sorts that helps to guide focus. At first glance, anything that helps to guide focus should be a no-brainer for ADHD peeps, right?

This method is becoming popular for good reason whether you struggle with attention or not. Most often, New Year’s resolutions are quick to become merely wisps of ideas that didn’t translate into tangible results.

Google it – my bloggy friends and eleventy billion other people are talking about this method all over the interweb because many are finding it helpful. Vanessa Heron writes about the Intention Revolution and how setting intentions helps guide her year HERE.

This is Hannah’s second year trying out the one-word intention, and she’s loving the simplification of finding personal growth in this way. Last year, her leading word was Simplify. Click HERE to discover how closely her 2017 Self Care intentions bear a lot of similarities to THIS Self Care list I made in December. (What is with us not flossing enough, anyway?)

There is a lot of advice about setting intentions that are very spiritual in nature that include directions to Breathe deeply, Trust, Connect, or Tune In. I have read it described as shooting an arrow into the universe, focusing on the target rather than the flight path. Setting intentions can be looked at as a way of calling a dream towards us.


But somehow holding hands and singing Kumbaya wasn’t going to do it for our family. It needed to be more concrete for the kids.

Perhaps I should be working on my trust issues but, quite frankly, I needed more solid direction too.

So, our family pulled out our cute little printable resolution planning sheets to use differently this year. Questions like ‘What were my favourite things about 2016?’ and ‘What am I most looking forward to in 2017?’ were used as a helpful guide to choosing our Intention word(s).

We found looking back upon the last year and forward to the new one was a great way to really think about what is most important in order and be able to pick a word that can guide your actions.

Personal Intention Word

breath, relax, reboot, stress, destress, meditate, calm, peaceful, yoga, pause, think, thought, health, wellness, self careBREATHE is my personal Intention word for 2017. It emcompasses so many areas I wish to move forward in and is, in itself, a strategy both personally and professionally.

BREATHE reminds me to take care of myself. I am terrible for prioritizing myself and my self care despite knowing its importance – especially when leading my family.

BREATHE is literally a reminder to take a breath to calm myself. (Which will help me in the family Intention word as well.) My intention word can help me to pause before I speak without thinking; to think before acting.

BREATHE means Slow Down. It reminds me of the little ditty used to teach kids how to cross the street: Point. Pause. Proceed.

BREATHE reminds me that taking one step at a time means that i am still moving forward. And can build upon those small successes.


Family intention Word

We are a family with differently wired brains. A family that is unconventional. We are a feisty family. A family that is learning to embrace our chaos.

And that’s all true. However, they kind of describe us in our best moments rather than our worst.

The chaos we try to embrace can sometimes feel like a train wreck.

We are a family whose members have trouble regulating their emotions; struggle with impulse control; can experience a serious crash when meds wear off; sometimes don’t sleep all night and battle constant fatigue; auditory and sensory processing disorders.

While trying to manage all our challenges, we are a family that runs hot and often find ourselves in conflict.

A family where sometimes things feel out of control despite all the tools in our tool box.kind, kindness, intention, family, resolution, focus, priority, important, relationship, family, wellness, health, togetherKIND is the Intention word our family decided on together. Seems simple enough but easier said than done when taking all of the above into account.

KIND gives us a framework to think or evaluate our actions and our words toward each other. ‘Could I have said that in a way that was more KIND?’ ‘Were my actions KIND?’ ‘Could I show more KINDness if I just let go of being right?

KIND gives us a common language to use: ‘That hurt my feelings. Could you say it in a way that is more KIND?’ ‘Is there a way that you could show your sibling more KINDness?


Is Less Really More?

BREATHE. Slow and steady.

So I can be KIND.

Seems simple enough.

I like the idea of an Intention word. I know my easily distracted brain can use all the help it can get with maintaining focus.

But….(Bing-Bing. Lights flashing. Pinball Machine.)….Is there more to it?

I feel as though making an intention word is almost like the ‘Why’ is missing the ‘How.’ As a self proclaimed Type A, solution-focused Doer, making an intention word still feels a bit loosey goosey. I can’t help but consider an Intention word to be the stuff of Dreams on their way to becoming Goals.

Thought that requires Action.

But at least I am heading in the direction of thoughtful Action. Or at least heading somewhere…which is better than standing still, doing nothing.


What do you think?

Did you make commitments to yourself or your family this year?

How do you do approach goal setting? Do you make resolutions? Set an Intention word? Does it give you clear direction?


Find out the small ways I plan to start putting my BREATHE mantra into action in my next post!

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  • Reply Puneeta @ January 8, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    What you wrote really sang to me, Joan! I’m that person who thinks and then thinks some more, and then thinks about the details some more. And then I have to pull myself out of the quagmire of details. Did you say analysis paralysis?!!!! Happy New 2017 to you and yours!

    • Reply Joan January 8, 2017 at 3:57 pm

      ADHD brain or not Puneeta, a type of Analysis Paralysis may afflict many a creative type like yourself too! My next post is about my 2017 Action Plan and includes a ridiculous amount of links to great resources!
      Maybe you’ll plan to join me in one of the challenges…? HINT: One challenge involves an Active for Life Role model besides you and me…

  • Reply Hannah January 8, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    What a great word choice! I think myself and my high anxiety could use that, too.

    I also understand what you mean about the double-think – is it possible to be as successful without clear cut and achievable goals? But… I do think it helps guide life more wholly, as it helps you grow in an area in every facet of your life. To train yourself to keep that “word” in mind through all, unexpectable situations. I also think it’s helpful to set your own sets of short- and long-term goals within your set word. Having the word helps me formulate real goals for how to better experience that intention.

    • Reply Joan January 8, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      I definitely think we are of like minds on the using intention and active goal setting differently. And you have had a year to work out how best to use intention to guide you. I will post my 2017 Action Plan with my short term focus. I plan to layer on some of our shared Self Care goals later in the year. Baby Steps.

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