The Difference Between Intention and Goal Setting

Trish McKinnley smiling with 'Difference Between Intention and Goal Setting' beside it

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Is there really a difference between intention and goal setting?

It can seem confusing.

Like there wouldn’t be much difference between intention and goal setting.

However, when we understand the difference, manifesting becomes easier and quicker. 


Intention is a core foundation. 


Goals are the steps to achieve that foundation.


Remember the whole which came first: the chicken or the egg? Well, in this instance, intention comes first.


  • Intention to fly. Wright Brothers then had goals for flight.
  • Intention to cook food. Julia Child then had goals for culinary school.
  • Intention to make a difference with love. Mother Theresa set goals and spread love everywhere.

Goals are the steps to achieve that foundation.


As we practice intention, it becomes easier and natural. 



Say we set the intention to have a great day – our actions become a magnet for manifesting a great day.


People sense our vibration.


They don’t see it necessarily, though we’re probably smiling and our aura is brighter.


There is something about us.


People instinctually go out of their way to be nice. 


Intention is that space that the universe holds for us until we recognize it’s our time to be ready for it.


We achieve that point in our lives that we resonate with our desire.


Goals then support us to achieve and maintain that vibration or wavelength.


When we set our intention we have advantages!


In our example of our intention to have a great day –


  • We miss, not notice or naturally avoid things, experiences or interactions that don’t identify as us having a “great day.”
  • We tune into things that help us align with opportunities and encounters to have a “great day.”
  • We’re in alignment with lucky breaks or incredible coincidences that are in keeping with a “great day”.


The universe connects us with endless possibilities to support our intention. 


The universe likes structure.


She likes us stepping into that structure to achieve our outcome.


Imagine we have the intention to make a cake (for the sake of this example, and I love cake. )



We gather the ingredients. For cake. Not for Caesar salad or steak tartar. For cake.


All of our actions (goals) remained in harmony with achieving our intention of making a cake. All of our goals were aligned with the outcome too!


So the differences between intention and goal setting are:


  1. Intention is a broad vibration – goal setting is specific.
  2. Intention is spiritual and can be measured with emotions – goal setting is physical and is mostly measured by actions.
  3. Intention is aligned with the universe – goal setting supports that alignment.




Before you get out of bed ask yourself to complete this statement…


My intention for today is _____________________.

(Keep the statement in the positive.)


Observe the rest of your day.

  • Were you tempted to veer off your intention?
  • How supportive was the universe?
  • Did you doubt this process or were you open and sincere?  

Try again! Watch what happens and experience the magic!


For more intention setting – download the Intention Setting Worksheet.


Grab yours here!






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Trish Mckinnley

Trish Mckinnley is a well-respected intuitive manifesting expert, spiritual teacher, author and speaker. She shows people how to strengthen their own intuitive gifts in order to become manifesting magnets! By drawing on the Forgotten Tools of the Universe you will discover so many incredible ways that the natural world supports us all, and helps take us from stress to success!
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