An Authentic Intention Setting Activity: Are You Playing To Win?

Do you need an authentic intention setting activity to clarify your goals this year? Skip the resolutions and ask yourself: Am I playing to win?

I’m not big on resolutions. They seem to come with a “make it or break it” kind of mentality that sets up for disappointment instead of authentic clarity and change. Instead, I like to start each new year by setting thoughtful intentions. For me, that means looking at my overall mindset and my daily actions. 

If I have a big-picture understanding of where I’m going and a more detailed view of the daily commitments that will make it happen. That way, if you don’t do it perfectly one day, you haven’t failed. 

This year, I set my intentions with a powerful yet simple activity that provided the perspective, clarity and direction I needed to start my year off right. What I love about this simple activity is it helped me evaluate my level of engagement in my own life. 

I say it all the time: “I want to really go for it and reach my biggest, brightest dreams!” But am I really going for it? How bad do I really want it? What am I ready to let go of to open up more space for my 2022 intentions? 

The answers will be different for everyone, but this activity will always have a winning outcome. Let’s get started! 

An Authentic Intention Setting Activity: Are You Playing To Win? 

The Activity

Grab a pen and a blank piece of paper. Divide the paper into four quadrants, and label the quadrant with the following titles: 

  1. Playing to Win
  2. Playing to Not Lose
  3. Just Playing
  4. Not Playing

Now, all you’re going to do is plot the different areas of your life into one of these four categories. You don’t need to write any details yet. Just ask yourself: Where does this aspect of my life fall? 

The key is to be honest in your answers. This activity isn’t about where you want each area of life to fall; it’s a true reflection of the level of commitment you feel right now. 

Once your gut gives you the answer, quickly write it down in the appropriate category. 

Here are some examples of the aspects of life and business that you can add to this activity: 

  • Roles & Relationships – wife, mother, daughter, sister, business owner, volunteer, artist, etc. 
  • Areas of Life – family, health, finances, work, faith, self-care, home, volunteer work, etc. 
  • Desires – dreams, goals, passion projects, hobbies, education, etc. 

Now, before you begin, you might be wondering what each category means, specifically. So let’s clarify the meaning behind each category: 

Playing to Win

This category requires your highest level of commitment. It means you prioritize these goals above everything else on your list. You want it badly, and you’ll do whatever it takes to reach your definition of success. You’re so dedicated, in fact, that you’re willing to face deep fears and push forward through failures or setbacks. 

With this category, it’s important to define what “winning” means to you. Ask yourself: “Where do I need to be at the end of this year to feel like I truly contributed the best I have to offer?”

Playing to Not Lose

This category means you’re playing the game, but you’re playing cautiously. You’re not willing to lose, but you might not be willing to confront the deep-seated fears or make the significant sacrifices required to win. If winning requires too much risk, sacrifice or discomfort, you’re ok with not winning. 

You’re committing – but there’s room to commit more. 

Just Playing

This means you’re letting life happen to you instead of choosing to happen to life. For some areas of life, this is a totally acceptable place to be. You’re in the game, but you don’t need anything specific to come out of it. You’re happy just playing, and you don’t want to add any pressure to the game. 

Not Playing

If you’re not playing, you’ve already agreed to lose in this area of your life. You’ve checked out. You’re not working toward a purpose. You really don’t even want to show up anymore. 

It may feel “bad” or “wrong” to put certain relationships, roles or aspects of life into this category – but it shouldn’t. In fact, finding the clarity that you really don’t want to play this game is a huge win! 

Instead of pretending to commit, now you can close this chapter and clearly communicate to others that this is no longer something you’re willing to devote time and energy toward. Now you’ve just made space for a new level of commitment in another area of life!

Gathering Insights 

Hopefully, you completed this activity with honesty and without judgement – because that’s where the value lies. This activity should give you a true picture of how engaged you are in your own life. 

Now, the next step is to glean some powerful insights from this picture. If you know me, you know I find so much freedom in honest self-reflection and evaluation. And that usually happens when I ask myself direct questions. 

So the next step is to ask yourself some questions, based on what you see on your piece of paper. Here are a few examples to get you started: 

  • If I’m playing to not lose, why not play to win? What am I fearful of? 
  • Where am I putting myself on the sidelines? 
  • Where have I silently gone along to get along? 
  • Where am I feeling imposter syndrome? Where do I feel not enough?
  • Where am I truly ready to let go? 
  • Where am I settling? Why? 
  • Where am I afraid to rock the boat? 
  • Am I truly dedicating the best of me? 
  • Am I giving my talent and contributions the opportunity to grow to their fullest capacity? 
  • Do I have gifts and contributions I’m only accessing on a small level? 
  • Are there certain areas I’m ok with not changing? 


Turning Insight to Action

After you’ve spent some time journaling the answers to these powerful questions, you’ll likely be faced with some new insights and clarity about where your life stands today. Great job! Now it’s time to translate all of that clarity into meaningful action. 

To create action, start by looking at your results and asking: “What do I want to change?” In another color, plot each area of life into the category you want it to be in. With this step, you’re reprioritizing your life according to what’s most important. Now you have a map for your goals and intentions in 2022!

Using that map as your guide, you can now design your life and structure your daily commitments in alignment with your intentions. For example, if you’re playing to not lose in your career – but you want to play to win – what actions do you need to take in order to get there? 

For me, that looks like daily self-care practices like eating well, sleeping enough and moving my body on a regular basis. Everything I’m doing in my life supports those ultimate “play to win” intentions. 

For you, that might mean choosing meditation or journaling instead of another toxic news cycle. Maybe you get up an hour earlier, or you reach for a protein shake instead of biscuits and gravy for breakfast. If you want financial freedom this year, consider deleting the Amazon app off your phone or doing a daily budget check-in. Maybe you put $1 away every day to build your emergency savings. 

Figure out what actions you need to repeat on a regular basis in order to align each area of your life with the category you desire. Design your life so it’s in alignment with your priorities. Now that you have a clear picture of what that looks like, you’re more likely to succeed. 

The Bottom Line 

This simple intention setting activity is a great way to clarify and strengthen the areas of your life, so you can play bigger and experience more wins in alignment with your dreams. 

For me, this activity did exactly that. I finally released last year’s challenges, lessons and transitions. Today, I feel spiritually and emotionally stronger, yet lighter at the same time – so I feel like I can play bigger. I have the space, the clarity and the resources. 

I’m ready for more wins: freedom, inner peace, spiritual wholeness, gratitude, a deeper impact on this world. I’ve done the conditioning, and I’m ready to run the race. After building up my inner resources over the past year, I’m ready to play the game differently – because I’m different. 

What did this activity teach you?