Living with Intention: Goal setting vs. Dreaming

The term “five-year plan” has been dropped into my consciousness a number of times since I hit the big 3-0. When people (mostly those who don’t know me) ask “what is your five year plan?” that I start to panic , “Oh sh*t! Was I supposed to make a five-year plan?”.

The look of expectancy deepens. See, long ago I decided I don’t like to plan because my plans are ultimately just that — plans. The actuality is that something different almost ALWAYS happens; it’s the unpredictability of life! So now I proudly respond: “I don’t have a five-year plan”.

The reactions have been pretty consistent so far: I call it the disbelief-pity sandwich. People halt their tongue and dare not dig any further, or, I get hijacked into a Spanish Inquisition: “Why not? Don’t you have goals? Don’t you want to achieve anything? etc.”

Hell yeah, I do! But my detailing out its every crevice is NOT going to make it happen. To me, goals are intellectual and they’re easy to fudge. There’s no five-year plan, but…

I do have a five-year DREAM

See, I realized there’s huge difference between dreaming and goal-setting in relation to life purpose, and it may not resonate for everyone.

Let me explain.

Goals are intellectually set targets to appropriate. You’ve heard of SMART Goals, but did you know they were developed by a Director of Corporate Planning? SMART Goals were intended for progress measurement in a corporate setting where goals had to be tangible and inflexible. So, when the destination is finite, SMART Goals reign supreme.

SMART Goals are:

Specific     Measurable     Attainable     Realistic     Time specific

In essence, goals are a linear road map designed to get you from A to B. Other the other hand, dreams are heart-centered and intrinsically tied to something more meaningful. They have an emotional tug that compels you to follow them. Dreams may not be SMART, but they sure as hell exist within the REALM of possibility, purpose and meaning.


Resonant     Expansive     Ambitious     Limitless     Motivating

In essence, dreams are a limitless journey with pit-stops full of meaning, passion and purpose. They are intrinsically and inextricably tied to your why — your life’s purpose.

We often hear that “goals are dreams with a deadline”, and I agree to an extent, but let me clarify: my concern with goals lies in how they are created, measured, and limited to realistic expectations. realistic =  short-changing yourself! You are capable and worth of big things — why settle for realistic? Hold that thought.

The tempered version of SMART goals is the polar opposite of my version of dreaming, and when I say dreaming I’m not referring to the lofty, intangible and conventional kind.

I want dreams SO resonant they get me out of bed in the morning! I want dreams so motivating, I think of nothing else and my excitement cannot be contained. BUT, I want dreams that are ambitious enough that they drive me to action. These types of dreams are so powerful they can’t bear to stay in my imagination. The intentions and purpose behind my dreams are so strong, you don’t need to scribble it all down. You embody it. This is what I call Living with Intention.


Can you see why I don’t have a structured five-year plan? Dreams have a sense of limitlessness, a new value I’ve come to own and adore. It goes hand in hand with freedom for me. Everything (and more!) is up for grabs if I allow myself to be present and open-minded/hearted in the moment and throughout the journey.

One reason I am vehemently against SMART Goals is that they laser-focus you to a fault.  When I was laser-focused I was blinded to other opportunities around me. I basically walked around with blinders on and was oblivious to every warning sign. I self-limited my life’s potential and missed out on a lot. Living with Intention means giving up being single-focused to achieve a goal and remaining open to possibilities.


I can tell you, it’s not YOU. It’s not the YOU that wants to live the fullest life. It’s not the YOU that desires to be more than you can possibly conceive.

The second reason why I dislike firm and definite goals: is their link to FAILURE. As I said, goals are rigid and structured. If a goal isn’t completed, what do we say happened? That’s right. We say we failed. To me, goals are an easy way to set us up for failure. Incomplete goal = FAIL.

you can’t fail a dream

It’s not even a coherent sentence! With a dream there’s a compulsion to follow and explore them, not to complete and check them off your list.

The last reason I don’t like goals are that they’re measurable and as such, COMPARABLE.  And we all know what Theodore Roosevelt said about comparison…

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

But dreams… ahhhh… dreams are personal. We can understand that dreams are unique and we accept that they belong to the sole individual who created them. Dreams encourage a sense of wonderment and hope. There’s no easy way to compare dreams. Even if I explained my dreams to you, you would paint a very different picture in your head. It’s like asking Monet to paint a Picasso. Sure it’d be beautiful, but it wouldn’t have Monet’s unique spin.


Since I started dreaming and living with intention I have experienced more abundance and opportunity in my life than at any other time. My blinders are off and I can take in the universe’s full possibility. I am ready to receive. Ultimately, I am living with intention and…

I’ve given myself the gift of ENDLESS POSSIBILITY

Will you?



* Tiny plot twist… I have VERY loose “goals”. BUT my are loose “goals” are what I want to GIVE and FEEL in life, not what I wish to receive and achieve. That’s a whole ‘nother post, coming soon! 😉

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