My Intention Cues

Stop the endless battle with your brain

Do you ever feel like you’re battling your own brain?

Whether it’s forgetting an appointment, procrastinating when you’re on a deadline, or just being in a bad mood, sometimes it feels like it’s brain vs. you.

With that battle going on, it can be really hard to stay focused, positive, and energized. It’s something that I deal with, and I’m guessing you probably do too.

I’ve really gotten a lot out of Brendon Burchard’s suggestions for how to sustain habits with triggers. Definitely check out his content! He offers some terrific suggestions and strategies for training your brain to react intentionally to certain stimuli. These are called “intention cues,” and they can be remarkably effective for boosting your daily productivity, mindfulness, and positivity.

In my on-going efforts to be more open, I thought I’d tell you a bit about how I’ve adapted this idea of intention cues to work for me. I hope you find it helpful.

Intention Cues for Personal Interactions

Intention cues can help improve your personal interactions with clients, colleagues, friends, family, and pretty much everyone you interact with on a daily basis.

For me, my intention cue when talking with someone stems from the question:

“How do I want this person to feel at the end of our encounter?”

The answer to that question is probably a series of positives:

  • Happy
  • Satisfied
  • Cared for
  • Supported
  • Prioritized
  • Loved
  • Etc.

Keeping in mind how I’d like them to feel at the end of the conversation helps me direct the conversation, including the words I choose and my own reaction to the conversation, in certain ways to ensure it ends on a positive note.

My strategies to get to that end goal will be different for each person depending on what they want, who they are, and my prior relationship with them. But keeping in mind how I want them to feel by the end of the interaction helps me make the right choices throughout the course of our encounter.

Just for the record, I always want my people to feel like I’ve left them with a positive impression. I want to come across as likable, professional, friendly, and personable. You might be thinking, “Sure, who doesn’t?” But it’s so important that the actions I take contribute to that end goal. Otherwise, it’s like wishing you’d win the lottery when you’ve never even bought a ticket! Actions and intentions matter.

Even when we don’t mean to, going into a conversation with a negative mindset can lead to a negative interaction. But by going in with a positive intention cue, you’ll be taking affirmative action to leave them with positivity!

Related Article: Is Your Bedside Manner Affecting Your Bottom Line?

Ideas for Visual Intention Cues

Here’s something I’ve started recently: creating visual intention cues to help remember the important relationships in my life. I’ve created a wallpaper for my desktop made up of photos of clients, family, and friends that I want to remember to give attention to.

Now, every time I sit down at my computer, I’m instantly reminded of these people who I value. If I haven’t spoken to my friend Nicole in a while, seeing her photo will remind me that I should reach out!

Here’s another one. Never underestimate the power of a sticky note! I can write down “give some love to Nicole” on a sticky note in an obvious location to remind me not just to reach out to Nicole but also to make sure I’m giving our relationship the love and appreciation that I want it to have.

For my client Brian, I might write “supported,” or “it’s all taken care of.” For other clients, my intention might be to make sure they feel that they matter, or that what they do is impactful.

Again, sticky notes. So obvious, but I swear by them.

Intention Cues at Networking Events

Networking events can be a super fun way to connect with new and interesting people, and all those connections can ultimately help you grow your business. They’re great and really important! But they can also be remarkably exhausting.

When you’re at a networking event, you need to be “on,” full of energy and positivity, ready to make a great impression. But even when everyone you meet is terrifically interesting, keeping track of dozens of new names and business cards can zap your energy.

How can you keep your energy up, and what can you do if you’re in not-all-that-great of a mood to begin with? You can use an intention cue!

With intention cues, you “train” your brain to react to certain triggers with your own mindset shift and actions.

Walking through the door to the networking event can be your cue to wake up, smile, think positive, and turn on.

When you end up in certain situations, the cue will help you react in a helpful way automatically. With enough practice, it will become a reflexive action, but in the beginning, it’s going to take a lot of effort and concentration.

Just think about it. If you start to work on the trigger of walking through the door when you enter a networking room now, how automatic will it be later once your brain has become embedded with that association? Eventually, you won’t even have to think about it; the second you walk in the door, your energy will turn on. It will become automatic. Isn’t that a great goal to strive for?

Daily Check-Ins

Intention cues aren’t just for events or one-on-one interactions. Really, they can be for anything! Cues can help train your brain to “do the right thing” in all kinds of situations. Here’s a common life intention cue: looking both ways before crossing the street. The intention here is not to get struck by a car. It’s probably the most important intention cue in this blog, which is why you were probably trained to look both ways from the time you were very young.

Here’s a business example. As you’re wrapping up an email and signing your name, that could be a cue to check your message again for spelling, grammar, and especially tone before you hit send. A colleague of mine made it a new year’s resolution a couple of years ago to eliminate anything that could be construed as passive-aggressive from her emails, and she’s had great success with it! Her intention cues have helped her to be more direct in all her correspondence.

Another intention cue could be the phone ringing. When it first rings, you might be caught off guard, in the middle of something, or just not in a sociable mood. The ring could trigger you to turn “on” and become more positive before you answer.

This happens all the time in call centres. Every great customer service rep has trained themselves to react to the ding that signals another call. They immediately smile, sit up straighter, and think about the tone they are about to use when greeting the caller.

I set up cues throughout my day to help me keep focused and positive. I have cues to check my energy level and decide if I need to boost it up. The trigger for these cues can be anything you do on a daily basis.

Like Brendon (we’re on a first name basis – shh, he doesn’t know), I’ve been training myself with intention cues for every time I walk through a doorway. I use it as an opportunity to check my mood and my energy. Am I entering somewhere with the wrong mindset? What about leaving somewhere with the wrong attitude? It’s a great time to check my outlook as well as my energy level.  

Every time I’m about to do a client call, I check in with my mood and energy level, then mindfully transition into the appropriate headspace I need to make the call positive and successful. Before any planned interaction, I check in with myself so that I can set aside any baggage I’ve been carrying with me and start with a clean slate so that nothing accidentally interferes with the matter at hand.

Time-sensitive cues can also be helpful. Waking up in the morning is a cue for me to check in with where I am and my immediate mood. Did I have a bad dream the night before that’s still affecting me? Can I let it go?

Anytime someone is leaving my house, I double check where I currently am in my relationship with them. Is the relationship in a positive or negative place?

Finally, before bed every night, I have the intention to check in with myself by doing a bit of meditation. This is a great way to close out my day with the right outlook!

Here’s the thing about intention cues: they’re always a work in progress. I don’t pretend to be perfect. I’m still working on this myself!

But I’m dedicated to becoming better, both personally and professionally, every single day. That’s what’s really important about this whole intention cue business; it’s a commitment to continuous improvement. You need to work to create a more positive, helpful mindset in both business and in life and intention cues can help with this.

Do you follow any intention cues? Have you had success creating positive habits? I’d love to hear about it!

Meet your host

Sandra Booker, Founder of Changemaker Inc. (home to Sidekick COO and The VA Studio) and creator of Scale Society and The Advisory Board, is a mentor, Fractional COO  and growth strategist. She specializes in helping overworked, overwhelmed, multi-hatted entrepreneurs become the CEOs of sustainably scalable, and powerfully profitable businesses. 

After helping local businesses thrive, and receiving accolades in her community (like the 40 Under 40 award) Sandra turned her attention to the world of online service providers, and her clients include familiar names like Chanti Zak, Tarzan Kay, and Laura Belgray.

In her (efficiently used) spare time, she teaches others how to build and grow their own 6-figure virtual assistant practices and is on a mission to create a million jobs by helping her clients and students scale their businesses.

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