intentions versus goals

Buddhism in Business Part 4 – Intentions -vs- Goals

This is the fourth in a six part series looking at Buddhism in Business. As I continue with my own personal growth and professional development for my Coaching and Consultancy business ‘Logros – Achieving Excellence’, the principles of Buddhism help us understand that there is a difference between intentions and goals.

Intentions v Goals – Living Skilfully – let my own actions reflect the quality of my mind

This week’s class I found to be by far the most interesting, immediately tangible and transferable into every part of life. And most noticeably to the relationships you have at work.

It is a highly quoted fact that the main reason people leave their jobs is due to the relationship with their boss. Most people do NOT leave their company, they leave their boss. This boss is usually cast, in the story of the mind (which is a story for another day), as the villain blocking the ego’s basic needs for recognition, security, feeling of belonging and capability.

Therefore, as the Teacher explained that this week’s Meditation was to be the Meta Bhavana which was about exploring relationships, I was already looking forward to what was to come. This was compounded when the explanation was underpinned with the quote, “Love is the awareness of other people”.

Before that though, as we recapped our weekly meditating practice with the person sat next to us, I realised that I had adopted a loose approach and had probably been ‘accidentally on purposely’ forgetting to regularly meditate. This has been no doubt, due to my impatient nature and inability to go beyond 4 minutes.

Therefore, a new strategy and reason to meditate evolved to actually improve patience was just what was needed!

How Cultivating Love & Kindness Leads to Happiness

We were told the Meta Bhavana mediation is about cultivating love and kindness because when you love, you are happy. A very simple yet complex equivalent but with further thought and certainly on reflection after the meditation I believe this to be true and it has far reaching consequences for mental health and wellbeing.

The suggested theory behind the Meta Bhavana is that by cultivating the intention to love yourself and others, it reduces the action of being critical and judgemental which for many is the cause of suffering of the mind. This idea of “intention” in relation to actions was a personal breakthrough moment in this week’s class, as I will refer to later.

As the usual apprehension built about the upcoming meditation, I was relieved to hear from the teacher that we were only going to complete the first two stages of the Meta Bhavana leaving time for discussion.

The 5 Stages of Kindness

The practice is split into five stages of kindness towards

1. Yourself
2. A good friend or family member
3. A Neutral person
4. A Difficult person
5. All living beings

As we settled into the meditation and the teachers voice softly emitted the command, “May I be well, may I be free from suffering”, I realised the connection with hypnotherapy.

A few years ago, I trained in hypnotherapy which is often described as guided meditation. As the hypnotherapist guides you into a relaxed state, bypassing the conscious mind, they embed new agreed suggestions regarding beliefs and actions.

Having completed the first stage of asking permission to be kind to myself, I found the second stage of cultivating love and kindness towards friends with suggestions of “may they be free from suffering” most insightful and practical for so many reasons. Especially as I was noticing my state change and feelings of joy fill my body.

As the practice came to an end with 10 minutes of positive feelings, it confirmed my long-standing belief that when you focus on loving or being kind to other people it transfers your thoughts away from yourself.

In today’s self-obsessed, “Why me?” world where poor mental health afflicts so many, I have always advocated helping other people and showing love to others, to improve mental health. I learned this very quickly in my time as a private banker. In this world of very wealthy people where materialistic needs can be fulfilled quickly, Philanthropy – helping other people – becomes the main source of feeling valued and fulfilled. It takes the focus away from you and onto others.

A Simple Way To Improve One\’s Own Well-being

Therefore, the Meta Bhavana practice is the most simplistic way of improving one’s own wellbeing as you focus your internal feelings on others. I can imagine practising this every day will change my life.

Two things became apparent from the group discussion afterwards.

Firstly, the practice is described as a very honest practice and from listening to others in the room describe their experience whilst in that meditative state as you think about kindness to another person then any conflict that is bubbling certainly arises. This was apparent for many who suddenly identified the source of their frustrations with even close friends.

Secondly, which was another breakthrough moment for me – the more you can cultivate the intention to be love and kindness to all people, including the Boss you believe you hate – under meditation, then “off the Mat” i.e.. In daily life, this kindness can start to subconsciously manifest itself into the way you communication and relate to other people and more importantly the difficult people in your life.

The knowledge that the kinder you are to even the most challenging people in your life, the more it will improve your own wellbeing is life changing. As by doing so, you free yourself from the suffering of the mind.

“If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts, happiness follows them like a never-departing shadow”, The Buddha.

Let Go Of Goals and Replace With Intentions.

The Buddha’s suggestion of letting go of goals and replacing with intention, captured my attention immediately in relation to Business practice especially with regards results and planning. As goals are in the future, by being motivated instead by your intentions, the focus changes to the present moment making the achievement of the goal potentially more likely. Yes, goals can be set to create a direction of travel because how else would we know what impact we wanted? But it is our intentions that are the main factors in shaping our actions of today.

The class finished on the ongoing notion of ‘The Agency of the Mind’ – our mind is a committee of regulating good and bad intentions. Our power in agency is dependent on our willingness and ability to veto a motion to act on our intentions.

More to come…..

Leave Your Comments

Have you looked into Buddhism, Meditation or other methods to try and improve wellbeing and have a positive influence on performance and results? Did it work? If you haven\’t tried it, what stops you? Please feel free to leave your comments in the section at the bottom of this page. 


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Lee Dinsdale

  • Lee Dinsdale

    Lee has over 15 years of experience in professional services as an investment manager and private banker and, since 2014, as a social value entrepreneur. Lee is now an Accredited Coach, Master Practitioner in NLP and trained Hypnotherapist, and was recently awarded a distinction for his MBA.