Mini Coaching: How to Discern Goal, Motivation, Expectation, and Intention

Miroo Kim
2 min readAug 21


Imagine that you have been wanting and trying to meditate regularly. You hear everyone saying how good it is for you, but you couldn’t really make it as your habit. Why? Before you delve into the various habit building hacks for this, the first place to start is to understand differences among goal, motivation, expectation, and intention.

Goal, Expectation, Intention, and Motivation

A GOAL is the end point in a race; it’s an outcome that we want to hit. In this context, a goal might be that you meditate everyday for 20 min.

Then you’d start building EXPECTATIONS in your mind of what should happen to make your goal happen. “I need to wake up early, and probably also get a cushion too. I should sit still and think about nothing.”Expectations are what you project into the situation based on your past experiences. You’re putting “the meditation experience” into a certain box; therefore, you might feel frustrated and defeated easily, when you don’t wake up early in the morning or when you keep thinking about stuff during meditation.

What’s most important is your INTENTION. The word intention is rooted in Latin “intendere”, which means “to turn one’s attention”. Intention requires conscious attention. It’s about “why” for a way of being — why do you want to meditate? Why is this important to you? Perhaps it aligns with your values, such as you want to be calm. You align your thinking, feeling, and physical being with your value of “calmness” and sit down on a cushion to practice. You may find yourself agitated and fidgety, but you accept it rather than feeling frustrated about it, because your intention (seeking calmness) is clear. You understand that fidgeting is a part of the experience.

Although intention might be clear, we sometimes fall off the practice. This is where MOTIVATION comes in. Motivation is what makes us keep doing things, because we find it rewarding. As you forget to meditate, you might decide to have coffee right after meditation, so that you have something to look forward to. Or you could find a friend who’d do it together with you virtually at the same time every day. Most habit building tips are about how to deploy motivation well.

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A System with Intention & Motivation

We suffer so much with self-criticism when we fail to achieve “goals” or to live up to our “expectations”. But we don’t have to suffer. In my experiences, I get to achieve a goal better when I am clear with my intention, keep a good balance with expectations, and understand what motivates me. You can apply this system to any goals. Try it and let me know how it goes!



Miroo Kim

I teach how to be emotionally intelligent to live a life of wellbeing. I am curious about how to design wholehearted life for everyone.