Establishing an intention or setting a goal are two different things that cannot exist without each other. With goal setting, the future is the focus. You then live in a self-created scenario that has nothing to do with your life now.
With establishing an intention, you are not oriented towards the outcome in the future. Your attention is with yourself and how you are now. Your attention is focused on the present in the constantly changing flow of life.
Setting an intention is based on understanding what is most true for you, and in doing so, you promise yourself to align your worldly actions (thinking and acting) with your inner truthfulness. To know these, developing self-knowledge is essential. Intentionality is therefore a practice exercise that you do daily.
Having goals is also fine. They help you create your place in the world and be an effective person. Yet without intention, things remain loose sand. When you are truly grounded in intention, integrity and unity arise in your life. Indeed, as you become more and more adept at cultivating intention, you learn to set wise goals. Goals that match your truthfulness. Then you can even work hard to achieve those goals without being attached to the outcome.
Another important effect of having intention is that it provides you with self-esteem and a calm mind. Goals without intention mainly create excitement and emotions that go from high to low.
And with this thought about establishing intention, I do come back to self-awareness, because without it, there is no intention. To achieve that self-awareness, it is necessary to develop your body awareness. That is step one: body work! Being able to consciously feel in your body what events and your thinking are doing to you. And that first step is the trickiest. Above all, it requires being alert and present to what you normally do and think automatically.
The intention on which my life is based is as old as the road to Rome. In my own words, it sounds like this:
I never seek happiness. For me, in fact, happiness is a by-product of contentment. Happiness is not a constant state of being and contentment is indeed.
Maybe it sounds a bit abstract. Apply it in your life and you will see that it is a living exercise. For example, when you decide to go on a diet, write a book, make a film. Examine what your intention is and ask yourself whether that intention comes from self-awareness, from your own truthfulness or from the attention or applause you hope to receive.
Yes, it is that simple.