How simple 2-minute inscriptions or say-it-out-loud recollections trigger your Cognitive Unconscious for “deep work”, a state of flow and invincible enthusiasm. 

I’d rather do nothing at all than slogging through stuff to get done.

I came to this way of working when I “retired” at the ripe age of 38. 

Mind you, at 38 I was recently divorced, “cash without” and with few marketable skills. Did. Not. Matter. Cared not. Just took a flying leap into the Unknown

In once sense, I began living my life backwards from the norm. 

If I was like most sensible people, I would have worked hard in my thirties, forties, and fifties, amassed financial resources, status, and lots of stuff, and then sort out the meaning of my life.

But, I chose the unbeaten path. 

I just dropped out of the game and only did stuff that interested me or the minimum of the stuff that would support my bohemian lifestyle.

In the last 30 or so years, I’ve run my own research firm, advised the top tech firms in the world, generated over $2B in revenues for clients, and make a decent living.

As this writing, I am 67 and I could not imagine doing it any other way.

I am now reporting on what I found that worked for an independent, freedom-living, and journeyman on an epic quest of discovery, transformation, and mastery.

These techniques may or may not work for other people with “real jobs,” especially in structured workflows, or for individuals with different temperaments. 

I have tried hundreds of hacks and techniques.

Placemat Intentions rock for individuals who work for themselves, who must self-start and work on projects of their design.

Placemat Intentions add a bit of structure to an otherwise wide-open workday.

Placemat Intentions help temper the chaotic energy of creativity with a quiet inner core of peace and deliberate intent.

I first learned about Placemat Intentions from Abraham-Hicks

The figure below depicts a portion of my Daily Plan that I call Flowing My Day.

The first three items represent core ideas of Getting Things Done, working from a pre-built list of active projects, each with a clearly denote next-action step as well as my personal commitment to produce just two or three key results for the day.

Timeboxing represents a core concept of Deep Work by Cal Newport, manually drawing a timebox on an hourly timeline for the day. Lots more to say about that, elsewhere.

Now comes the Placemat Intention, only we flip the script and make it an inevitability.

In the figure you will also see an INTENTION SCRIPT, four starter sentences to which you can add the particulars of the desired outcomes for the day.

In a companion day journal (just a simple paper writing tablet), I will inscribe three REALIZED OUTCOMES for day.

For example:

  1. Today I recall working on the Getting Started blog.
  2. I recalled editing the Placemat Intentions blog, adding its final touches.
  3. About that, I recall feeling a deep, full-body sense gratitude when I published it for everyone to read.
  4. I remember just showing up and letting Life move through my body.

Notice that I inscribed them as historical facts, as “done”, thus tricking my sense-making Unconscious into creating a story or narrative about how it / we got it done (with the absolute minimum amount of energy!)

By inscribe I mean writing longhand, witnessing the physical sensations of flowing through my body, seeing the mental images fly by with each word as written out, and the feelings that blossomed and morphed into a flagrant bouquet of Gratitude.

Each sentence becomes a three to five second meditation. And each realized outcome, a 12 to 24-second interval of intent.

Inscribing an realized outcome also call attention to a call-and-response pattern, casting your deliberate-intent-as-a-realized-outcome into the vast silence of your inner world and sense-feel-listening to what comes back … to what your Greater Self can now whisper with clarity and concision.

Again, Life already happened

Welcome to the Groundhog Day Loop (see Plot): You will notice that each sentence uses the past tense.

So, again… this morning I inscribed, 

#1/ Today, I recall working on the Getting Started blog. 
#2/ I recall editing the Placemat Intentions blog, adding its final touches.  
#3/ About that, I recall feeling a deep full-body sense of Gratitude when I published it for everyone to read.
#4/ I remember just showing up and letting life move through my Body.

In these four simple sentences, you will find the transformative fruits of a lifetime quest, ready for you to harvest and put into practice.

The first sentence cues your Cognitive Unconscious to notice that the CEO, your conscious Self, had given the neural crew a job to be done for today. 

Upon writing or saying that aloud, listen-sense-feel the memory of having worked on on this desired intention, the feeling that it is done. 

The second sentence frames a result and a condition of satisfaction

That’s a key step in outcome-based thinking, correlating action (or doingness) with a desired outcome (result and criteria).

The third sentence associates the feelings of Gratitude, how a part of your brain knows that’s your desired intent (now recalled as fact) is real. 

Upon writing or saying that aloud, amplify the weak signals or fuzzy feelings into a more full-body experience of  Gratitude.

Mind you, your Rational Mind knows this is an illusion. And that’s just fine. Your Cognitive Unconscious works on a different basis…pure feelings, the stronger the better.

Just like training a dog to sit or be still, you want a similar relationship with Cognitive Unconscious.

By experiencing Gratitude before you actually start the work not only drains off a lot of internal unconscious resistance, it does something even greater impact.

The more stronger (survival at all costs) portion of your Cognitive Unconscious must, simply must, come up with narrative by which to explain and justify the actions taken.

It must close the narrative gap between recollected action now deposited into your Cognitive Unconscious and the Identity or your Concept of Self.

So by writing or saying that aloud what has already happened, you’ve given Cognitive Unconscious a paradox, the solving of which will transform your Concept of Self.

Stating an intention as a historical fact, your Cognitive Unconscious must either it as threatening attack the integrity of your Concept of Self (thus creating an internal crisis with no good solution) or it must marshall its energies and just get the damn job done.

Your Cognitive Unconscious is the ultimate energy miser. It will also want to take the path of least resistance. It always seek the most gain for least amount of pain

That why it’s important that you trick it into marshalling and focusing internal energies to just get the damn job done. It’s the most energy-efficient way of surviving.

And for the fourth inscribed intention: I recall just showing up and letting life move through my body.

Here you are instructing your Conscious Self on the proper stance to take today.

This simple sentence distills the essence of most spiritual traditions and practices. In a word: Abide.

Life insists on moving through you. Most notably, Life moves through your body. 

Just a food, water and air move through your body, so does Life (impressions, emotions, and sensations).

Sure you can restrict the flow of Life, but only for so long.

As we open to receive Life, as we accept the Presence of others and the Beauty of our world as a gift (our definition of Gratitude), it stretches us. 

And, yes, it stings a bit (or a lot) … until we expand to include or continue to resist while the tumbling white water rapids in the River of Life … only later expanding to include or die and start over again.

You are most welcome Groundhog!