The Power of Setting Your Intention

While it's customary to set New Year's resolutions this time of year, here at CWM we've found that a simple-goal setting process involving a single annual theme works better to inspire and keep us focused.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a firm focused on intentional planning for clients has a process for reflection and identifying the intentions of our team members as well. Our team pauses to reflect on a few questions that provide a framework to illuminate personal and professional goals, set intentions for the coming year, and state those aims aloud.

Surprising as it may be ‘lasso’ is the term I’ve chosen as my theme for 2022. For me, it signifies homing in, targeting, reigning in and regrouping – something we’re probably all hoping to do after the challenges presented over the last couple of years. It also channels for me the upbeat coach and student of human behavior, Ted Lasso, from Jason Sudeikis’ hit show. Rather than bemoaning life’s challenges, Lasso reflects on problems with “What’s the lesson here?”, directing himself and others to self-identify positive solutions, while refraining from complaining or condemning his fellow humans for their human mistakes. His refusal to take himself (or his critics) too seriously endears him further. Yes, this is a fictional character, but I think we could all stand to learn a bit from Mr. Lasso’s example.

Identifying an annual theme for progress is a valuable exercise that anyone can do, and we thought our community of thoughtful individuals – who are accustomed to our intentional investment philosophy and focus on Living Richly – might be interested as an alternative to the age-old resolution tradition. Here are the steps that we take, and some of the creative, insightful, and inspirational outcomes from our team.

Intentionality is key

"Compare yourself to who you were yesterday and not someone else’s today.” – Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life

First, let’s take a moment to talk about intentions vs. goals. In The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek shines a light on the boundless quality of business, politics, and life itself. Unlike a soccer game or a chess match, you don’t finitely ‘win’ or ‘lose’ in life or business — and circumstances shift and evolve over time. Taking this endless, qualitative view, you might say that all goals are arbitrary. If someone sets a goal to lose 25 lbs. by summer but loses 20, did they not still make meaningful progress? In that context, falling short of a goal set within an arbitrary timeframe does not mean you failed — rather, it’s still important to recognize forward progress and the valuable lessons learned along the way.

While the rigidity of finite goals has the potential to leave you feeling defeated, a broader intention can help you stay focused during changing circumstances. It also gives you leeway to adapt and cut yourself some slack when things don’t go according to plan — something that’s all-too-likely in the uncertain times we live in.

In fact, focusing on an intention leaves the door open to celebrate all progress and wins, big or small. This is a difficult practice for me personally: I tend to move right onto the next challenge, instead of stopping to celebrate my progress so far. As we establish objectives for each new year and look back on progress toward the previous year’s goals, it’s also important to give ourselves even brief pause to recognize, regroup, and a pat on the back before getting back to work.

Diving into the details

Here’s how our process works at CWM. We keep it simple on purpose, finding that people tend to be more creative in their intentions with fewer guidelines or restrictions. Plus, we are all busy, and we’ve found this framework has the right amount of rigor without becoming a prohibitively big project on its own.

First, each member of the team takes time to answer a set of reflection questions. These questions include “Where has this year taken you?”, “What are some key successes, failures, and frustrations from this year?”, “What stretched you?”, “What’s one behavior that would make you more effective at work (or home)”, and “What’s the biggest thing you learned?”

Next, the team meets as a group, then breaks out into smaller sessions to discuss our reflections. It's important to include other people in your process, because research shows that stating your intentions aloud increases accountability and the likelihood of following through. We talk about our intentions from last year and cheer on each other’s progress, even if we didn’t strictly meet our goals. (Remember – 87.5% of goal is still tremendous progress!) For example, one team member aimed to run 1,600 miles in 2021, and ended up running 1,400. That’s still fantastic, and we applaud her accomplishment!

Finally, each team member distills their reflections down into one intention for the new year, encapsulated by a single word, and shares aloud one personal goal and one professional goal. Intentions and words from the team this year include:

  • Assured/Confident
  • Transition
  • Completion
  • Fluid/Flexibility
  • Believe
  • Balance
  • Fascinate
  • Trust
  • Improve

After this process, and a presentation where we share overall business objectives with the team, we begin a coaching program that lasts the rest of the year. During these coaching sessions, we look at how each individual contributes to CWM’s overall success.

So to recap: Reflect, set an intention, choose a word to symbolize that intention, and talk it out with others—your family, your own team at work, or a friend group.

It’s all for you

What's your word? Everything we do at CWM is ultimately in the service of our clients and with your intention in mind. If it’s been a while since we’ve talked about your financial and life goals, give us a call at (425) 778-6160 or get in touch through our contact form. We’ll check in and make sure your financial strategies still align with your objectives.

Here’s wishing you a healthy and successful 2022, with meaningful progress towards your goals!

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