Yes, you read this correctly. This is not about having an intention but setting an intention. Clearly more active than just having an intention. What I’m talking about is a kind of thought ritual. This is something that I start the day with and also end it.

We have known for some time that our thoughts determine our behavior. William James, the father of psychology, discovered that thinking about a behavior dramatically increases the chance of actually doing it. More than 100 years of neuroscientific research confirms this.

The ritual thus helps to get things done that you have set your mind to, whatever this might be. This morning for example I set the intention to put this tip for you today on paper and I am now actually here to do this.

Ideally you set your intentions early in the morning or just before going to bed, since then our subconscious is easily accessible. And that is ultimately the level where thoughts can best ‘descend’.

But in addition to these kinds of practical intentions such as getting work done or having focus, completing something or achieving results, such an intention can also be aimed at stress and especially its prevention.

Intentions can be for example:

  • Despite the high workload, I remain calm today.
  • I don’t let anything disturb me today.
  • The appointment this afternoon will be to my complete satisfaction.
  • I smile as much as possible today so that I produce a lot of happiness hormones.
  • The presentation I give will be going well.
  • I sleep well and relaxed and wake up rested tomorrow.

How do you do that, set an intention?

Step 1:

Form the intention. It is always formulated positively. So instead of “I don’t want stress” it is “I am calm”. Keep the intentin within your zone of influence. So instead of “my colleague is nice to me”, it is “I treat my colleague with kindness”. You will see that this intention will eventually also change a few things for him.

Step 2:

Say this intention silently or out loud.

Step 3:

Make it a mental image. Close your eyes now if you can, otherwise have them slightly closed. Then go through the day in your mind and see some scenes or pictures of how you actually experience and realise the intention.

If, for example, the intention is “I am calm”, see a few moments of the day and how you are calm in these situations. And then repeat to yourself the intention “I am calm” with each scene.

A lot of my coachees say “I’m not good at visualising”. But nothing turns out to be less true. When I say to them “Imagine that you are standing in front of your front door”, everyone has a picture ready of his or her front door. We can all make pictures in our minds. The more often you do this, the better it will work.

Step 4:

Release the intention and just start the day.

Step 5:

In the evening (or in the morning if you have an intention for a night’s sleep) take a moment to reflect on what has happened with this intention. Chances are big that you will be surprised by the result.