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  • Writer's pictureHouria Bellatif

"Un-Goal" setting for your 2024

As the calendar flips to a new year, millions will pen resolutions fervently. From getting that promotion to launching a side hustle, deepening emotional connections, and becoming a pillar in their community, the goals will be as diverse as their ambitions. But what if I told you these plans might be as outdated as last year's memes before January ends? I am introducing you to a thought process that might diverge from the usual goal-setting narratives.


Forget SMART goals. Let's talk about W.I.S.E. intentions.

In a world where the only constant is change—where your next ample career opportunity might come from a casual conversation and where your personal relationships can influence your professional network—I dare you to enter 2024 with intentions, not just metrics. Before you raise an eyebrow, let me clarify: I'm not advocating for aimlessness in your career or complacency in your personal life. Instead, I invite you to consider a more nuanced, flexible approach to growth encompassing all facets of your existence. Think of it as your personal and professional GPS, recalibrating it in real-time as you journey through the unpredictable landscape of life.


The Trouble with SMART goals

We've all heard of SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. They're the darling of corporate seminars and self-help books. But let's get real for a moment. How often have you set a SMART goal, only to find that it became irrelevant and counterproductive even as circumstances changed? Rigid plans can narrow focus, encourage short-term thinking, and inhibit progress.

In fact, the rigidity of SMART goals can sometimes be their downfall. They don't account for the fluidity of life, and we all know "Life does happen":

What if you achieve a goal and find it unfulfilling?

  • What if external circumstances change, rendering your goal irrelevant?

  • What if your own values shift, making your original goal misaligned with who you've become?

  • What if achieving your goal negatively impacts someone you care about, creating ethical or emotional dilemmas?

  • What if new opportunities arise that are more aligned with your growth but diverge from your original goal?

These are questions that SMART goals often need to address. And let's remember that life is rarely lived in a vacuum. Our goals often intersect with those of others, adding layers of complexity that a SMART framework can't fully capture.

Because life isn't a checklist; it's a rich, unfolding narrative. 

Enter W.I.S.E Intentions Instead.

So, what's the alternative? I propose WISE intentions: Whole, Inspirational, Sustainable, and Evolving. Unlike goals, which are often rigid and outcome-focused, intentions are flexible and process-oriented. They allow room for adaptation and growth, which is crucial in our fast-paced, ever-changing world.

  • Whole: Consider the whole picture, not just a single metric. If your core value is sustainability, a Whole intention could be to align your consumer choices with eco-friendly options, from the car you drive to the food you eat.

  • Inspirational: WISE intentions should uplift and inspire you. They should resonate with your core values and long-term vision, not just serve as another item to tick off a checklist. For example, If your ultimate life vision is to be a thought leader, an Inspirational intention could be to engage in lifelong learning and share your insights through public speaking or writing

  • Sustainable: Any intention you set should be sustainable in the long run. It's not about drastic changes you'll abandon in a month; it's about incremental progress you can maintain.

  • Evolving: Our intentions are designed to develop. As you grow and learn, your intentions should adapt to reflect your new circumstances and insights. In a rapidly changing environment, an Evolving intention is to continually update your skills by taking a new course each quarter, learning a new art, trying something new every month, etc...


Power of Flexibility

Let's say you're a manager aiming to improve team productivity. A SMART goal might be to "increase team output by 20% in Q1." But what happens if a global pandemic hits or key team members leave? That's where a WISE intention comes in handy. Instead of a rigid metric, you could "foster a culture of continuous improvement and adaptability within the team." This intention is flexible enough to accommodate unforeseen challenges and opportunities. It also encourages a mindset of growth and adaptability, which is invaluable in today's volatile business landscape.


Ready to give it a try? Here's a simple exercise to set your WISE intentions for the coming year:

  1. Reflect: Take some time to think about what truly matters to you. What are your core values? What is your long-term vision for yourself? Hint:  Vision does not mean linear progress, nor does it represent a position or a title. Think Broader

  2. Write: Based on your reflection, write down a few intentions that are whole, inspirational, sustainable, and evolving. Remember, these are not rigid goals but flexible guidelines.

  3. Review: Periodically review your intentions. Are they still aligned with your values and circumstances? Don't hesitate to revise them as needed.

  4. Act: Unlike goals, which often lead to a "set it and forget it" mentality, intentions require ongoing action. So, how about planning to incorporate your intentions into your daily life? This could involve setting reminders, creating rituals, or even enlisting the help of accountability partners.


As you stand at the start of 2024, I challenge you to set W.I.S.E intentions that will evolve with you. Because life isn't a checklist; it's a rich, unfolding narrative. And in this narrative, you're not just the main character but also the author. So why limit yourself to a rigid plotline when you can write a story that adapts and grows?

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