Live with Intention, Lead with Intention: Intentions and Goal Setting for 2018

How are you thinking about setting your goals for the new year? What are your intentions for 2018? What is important to you and how will you point yourself in the right direction to achieve your goals and create better habits?

Live and lead with intention, don’t just make resolutions

I’ve never liked the word “resolution” because it conjures in my mind lofty goals that are often not achieved.

In the dictionary, resolution is defined as “a firm decision to do or not to do something”. Making a firm decision is a necessary part of achieving goals, but it isn’t sufficient.

I’ve already noticed that the gym is more packed than it was at the end of the year….but like always, I anticipate that this will change in the next month or so as people lose their motivation.

I prefer the word intention.

It’s like the saying ,“Live less out of habit and more out of intent” that I reflected on in 2016:

We need to have intent to how we WANT to behave, otherwise we’ll just fall back on our old habits and practices.

Of course, it is also essential to have a plan of how you are going to practice, and a process to reflect and learn about what is working or not.

But without having intention – of knowing where we want to go and thinking about how we are going to get there – it is unlikely that we will be successful in not living by our old habits.

Before we left Japan, I had the Japanese word for “intention” (“shikou”) written in calligraphy to frame. I still need to choose my favorite and get it mounted. That should be one intention for this year!

Intention – Connect the WHY, WHAT and HOW

In addition to deciding WHAT you want to accomplish, you must also connect with WHY this goal is important and develop a defined process for HOW you will accomplish the goal.

I chose the word intention to be the symbol on my Japanese business cards as it is a word that is meaningful to me both personally and professionally.

I later learned that in Japanese the word “intention” comes from the characters meaning “heart”, or WHY it is important inside, and “direction”, HOW you line up your actions with WHAT is important.

I now find the word intention all that more meaningful.

We should have intention in how we live, how we lead, and how we show up each and every day in the choices we make. Connecting with our heart can help point us in the right direction.

Live with Intention

My good friend and mentor Margie Hagene gave me the most perfect gift in December, a beautifully painted book of calligraphy called “Lead with Intention” by Renee Locks. (Image Source: “Live with Intention” by Renee Locks)

It was the perfect gift by someone who has supported me in recognizing my intentions and pointing myself in the direction to achieving them.

Heart and Direction – Looking Back and Ahead to 2018

Three years ago this week we moved to Japan and I started to write content for this blog (even though I didn’t have an actual platform set up for publishing…that came a few months later).

In that first post, I laid out my intentions for how I wanted to use our gift of eighteen months in Japan, and since then have regularly set and reflected upon the annual intentions I’ve set out for myself, such as this recent post looking back on 2017.

If I look back on the past few years, I see some themes that have emerged:

2015 – Year of Adventure (moving to Japan!) Intentions, Mid-Year Reflections,Year-End Reflections

2016 – Year of Transitions (leaving Japan in June, moving back to the U.S., and coping with my father’s death in December) Intentions, Reflections

2017 – Year of Renewal (navigating life without my father, refocusing on developing my business, reconnecting with community) Reflections

2018 – Year of Focus 

And now as we enter a new year, I anticipate that the theme of 2018 will be “Year of Focus”

It was exciting to see my professional coaching and coaching practice grow over 2017 both within the U.S. and internationally. I ran many experiments and said yes to a lot of work and personal opportunities. I learned a lot – including what worked and didn’t work so well – which I shared with you in the post: Reflections on 2017: “Today is a Great Day”.

Now in 2018 it is time to focus on what is the most important to me and make sure I’m pointing myself in that direction.

Goal Setting for 2018 – Using Personal Hoshin Kanri

Mr. Isao Yoshino with the daruma I brought for him from Takasaki in May.

At the European Lean Educator Conference (ELEC) in the Netherlands two months ago, I went through Mr. Isao Yoshino’s exercise of exploring my own personal hoshin kanri on an A3 sized paper as part of a half-day workshop on strategy deployment at Toyota.

Back in May Mr. Yoshino had encouraged me to develop my own A3, and as I wrote in the Lean Post, not to get hung up on the format of the examples he provided, but to make a format that worked for me.

First pass was messy

When I actually put pencil to paper, it was clear that I had too many things going on professionally or that I wanted to do. I spent the bulk on my time putting down everything that I saw on the horizon or things I was interested in. This took up most of the paper.

Personal intentions

As we reached the end of our working time, I easily and quickly wrote my personal intention at the bottom of the paper. Going through the experience of my father’s death in 2016 and managing through grief helped me gain clarity on my personal priorities. The guiding intentions for my overall life are:

  • make sure that I am not away from my family more than 50% of time in any one month
  • spend time with my kids beyond just the basics of life logistics on the weeks I’m home (e.g. spend a day as a field trip driver, block time to take them on an excursion or to one of their activities, etc.)
  • carve out dedicated time to spend with my husband, mom, and friends (e.g. spend 1-1 time with mom every month)
  • workout for 30-60 minutes at least 5 times a week even when I travel
  • focus on making every day a great day

Play catchball to gain insights

Playing catchball – sharing draft thinking and receiving questions to prompt deeper thinking – is an important and helpful process to gain clarity on any problem, plan or issue.

During the workshop in the Netherlands, while going through catchball with Mr. Yoshino and Gunars Caune, I realized how unrealistic it would be for me to accomplish everything that I’d laid out in my professional hoshin for 2018. It became clear that for my professional goals I needed to develop some focus and prioritize what is most important to me to to this year.

Gunars and I have a follow-up catchball session next week to share each of our revised hoshin plans, so I wanted to spend time this week to develop mine more robustly.

Make it visual

Anytime you can make something visual – through a graph, picture, or timeline – it can add clarity. 

Mr. Yoshino and I also talked later that day about how it may be helpful for me to develop a timeline for each of my major activities so that I could see how I am level loading work and travel, as my activities are not constant throughout the year. I haven’t done this on my A3 yet, but I have a visual map on my calendar that helps me see which weeks I can travel or not.

Connect with your intentions before setting out your annual plan

Before I could go further to create a 2018 plan, I needed to step back and identify what is most important to me professionally – to define the “heart” aspect of my intentions so that I can point myself in the right direction.

The past few days, I spend some desk time in reflection to identify what is important professionally, building off the annual reflections and lessons learned that I had in 2017.

These are my 2018 professional intentions:

  • Have a meaningful and positive impact on the people with whom I work – be it coaching, consulting, teaching, facilitating. People development is what excites me.
  • Develop ongoing / longer-term relationships. 
  • Prioritize local work or work that I can do locally/remotely, but leave some time for opportunities that require travel (priority to international travel a few times a year or places where I can also connect with family and friends – not to exceed personal target of no more than 50% of time away from family in one month).
  • Dedicate time to reflect, create, learn and connect.

Then create your plan – your annual goals or hoshin

Just part of my extensive daruma collection.

After defining what is important, you can better define WHAT to do and HOW to do it. You can then create your plan or hoshin.

Based on the intentions that I was then able to more clearly figure out what to focus on – and create some guiding principles of what to say “no” or “not right now” to.

Some of this is a work in progress and will get more clearly defined as the year progresses, but I have a clear sense of the first half of the year and some ideas of what might play out for the second half.

Use a daruma for a visual reminder of goals and perseverance!

For some of my personal and professional goals and intentions, I have already filled in the eyes of some of my darumas! (If you don’t know what a daruma is or how I came to be so obsessed with them, check out these links to learn about the history and role of daruma dolls or my visit last May to the “daruma capitol” of Japan).

Key 2018 Professional Goals and Focus

Experience the customer service (omotenashi) and precision turn over in Japan. Here are cleaners bowing as the Shinkansen (bullet train) arrivals at the terminal station.

Japan Study Trips and Maintaining Japan Connections

I’m excited to be going back to Japan in less than two weeks to prepare for the study trip I’m leading for the Ohio State University in May. I’m looking forward to seeing many of my Japanese connections while we are there, including Mr. Yoshino, Mr. Sumiya of Toyota Memorial Hospital, Mrs. Ogura in Ashikaga, and Tim Wolput. And of course experiencing the omotenashi (customer service) and amazing food that Japan has to offer!

I also will spend time with friends and my former Japanese teacher, who I’ve asked about having regular Skype appointments to practice the language I am forgetting so much of the Japanese that I learned when we lived in Tokyo.

2018 goal: Lead an amazing trip to Japan for OSU and create an ongoing program in collaboration with the university for future learning experiences. Explore opportunities to develop trips for other groups.

Looking ahead to 2019: Are you interested in going to Japan with me in 2019? I’d love to help your organization put together a fabulous learning experience based on the connections and insights I have made.

Update – goal realized! Check out the Japan Study Trip page on this website to learn about the next learning trip to Japan that I’m leading in May 2019 and others in the future.

Come learn more about the new San Francisco Bay Area Consortium on January 19th

AME San Francisco Bay Area Consortium

Are you in the San Francisco Bay Area? Join the new AME San Francisco Bay Consortium!

I’m thrilled to be facilitating this lean learning network and be officially connected with AME. It was a no-brainer to say yes to this opportunity as it hits so many of my professional intentions: learning, connections, longer-term relationships, and locally focused work.

My 2018 goal: Get the Consortium up and running and make it a successful network of 10 companies by the end of the year, as measured by 100% of companies renewing Consortium membership for 2019.

Join me in Nashville in March to learn and practice fundamental coaching skills – and how to use the Personal Improvement A3 framework.

Coaching, Consulting, Teaching, Speaking

I look forward to continuing to work with my current clients and exploring other opportunities this year for coaching, teaching, consulting or speaking.

Some aspects of my work in this area is less defined as some engagements are one-off events or ad hoc – like the 1-day “Coaching for Development” workshop that I’m teaching in March at the Lean Transformation Summit in Nashville!

I’ve also been exploring more engagements that augment in-person coaching and consulting with remote follow-up and coaching.

In addition to my client work and faculty partnership with organizations like Catalysis and LEI, I also will continue to be a coach for two students as part of the OSU MBOE program and I volunteer on the boards of two organizations locally.

2018 Goal: Don’t say yes to too many things and become overcommitted, and thus break personal “with family” time goal. Use intentions and priorities to filter what to say “yes” or “not right now” to.

Reflection, creation and connection

Writing this blog has been a way for me to reflect, create, and connect. It is important to me for all of those reasons and I want to make sure that I find time for either writing for this blog or to work on new content. I’m also excited to be redesigning the layout of my website – and look forward to unveiling it sometime later this year.

It’s also important to me to maintain and create personal connections with colleagues locally and around the world.

2018 Goal: Write or produce new content to publish something at least 2x month (either a blog post, webinar, guest post, article, etc) or spend some time working on creating new materials or content.

Focus and learn – and make today a great day

I’m sure my thinking will be come even more clear and concrete as I experiment, play additional catchball, and reflect. I look forward to what 2018 has in store, and to make every day, as my father would say “a great day”.

How will you use the concept of intention and personal goal setting / hoshin planning to start your year?

More reflections and insights to come

In future posts, I will share highlights from my upcoming trip to Japan and another installment of “Toyota Leadership Lessons” about insights learned from Mr. Isao Yoshino.

I also intend to write a second installment of the top leadership lesson’s I’ve learned from Mr. Yoshino. If you haven’t already seen it, you can  click here to get a PDF of the top 10 Toyota leadership lessons that Mr. Yoshino shared me in 2015 & 2016. 

Thank you for reading and, as always, I welcome your thoughts and comments below. This post ended up much longer than I’d originally intended!

Be Part of My Chain of Learning

If you enjoyed this post and want to continue your learning journey with me, sign up for my periodic newsletter below where you’ll be the first to know about new articles on leadership, coaching, and continuous improvement, more author interviews and giveaways, and other opportunities to deepen your learning.

If you are already a subscriber, thank you!

Get The Latest Updates

Join my Chain of LearningÂŽ!

Register below for my newsletter and be the first to know about new articles, podcast episodes, and other inspiration to deepen your learning and leadership impact.

Let's grow our Chain of Learning -- together!

Related Posts



Get my free guide 3 Tips to Break The Telling Habit & learn how to ask better questions with intention.

3 Tips to Break the Telling Habit

Take my FREE Change Katalyst™ self-assessment now!

Sign up today to get a free copy of the Take my FREE Change Katalyst™ self-assessment.

Get your own copy of the 4-Box Problem-Solving Tool

Sign up today to get a free copy of the 4-box problem-solving tool.

Download My Plan-Do-Check-Adjust Framework

I want the "Leading to Learn: People Centered Practices to Develop a Culture of Learning" webinar slides!

In addition to the webinar slides, you will also be signed up for Katie’s periodic newsletter, which you can opt out of at any time.

Get the Create a Life Tapestry Art Project Instructions

Enter your email to get access to the life tapestry instructions.

How to Ask Effective Questions

All newsletter subscribers get a copy of Isao Yoshino’s tips on “How to Ask Effective Questions” from our joint session on asking effective questions. Sign up here!

Download Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn Book Sample

Dive into Isao Yoshino’s Letter to the Reader and learn from his first mistake at Toyota. By sharing your information, you will also be subscribed to Katie’s periodic newsletter to be the first to know about new articles, events, and other learning experiences!

Download a PDF of the article "If You Think Lean is Inherently Japanese, Think Again"

Sign up below and receive a PDF of the article I wrote for Planet Lean “If You Think Lean is Inherently Japanese, Think Again”!

Get Personal Improvement A3 Coaching Tips!

Develop your coaching skills to develop others. Download the Personal Improvement A3 Coaching guide!

Start living and leading with intention today!

Do you want improve yourself as a leader, coach or learner? Getting started with an intentional practice of daily reflection can accelerate your learning. Enter your email address below to download the Daily Reflection Template.

Isao Yoshino’s Leadership Credo

Sign up here and get your copy of Isao Yoshino’s leadership credo!

Learning to Lead Leading to Learn Book

Top 10 Toyota Leadership Lessons

Receive a PDF of the first top 10 leadership lessons and insights that I learned from Mr. Isao Yoshino, a leader at Toyota for over 40 years. These lessons and more inspired us to create the bestselling book “Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn.”

Learning to Lead Leading to Learn Book

Access the Book Bonus Resources

Get the downloadable bonus material and additional resources referenced throughout the book. By sharing your information, you will receive access to all the bonus resources — as well as new resources as they become available.