It doesn’t matter where you are physically – what matters is where you are mentally. That overlays your physical environment and is actually the “dwelling place” of your awareness and consciousness. You respond equally if not more to what’s in your mental space than you do to what’s in your physical space.

You can fool yourself temporarily by moving to a new physical environment, but unless you clean and organize and create the optimum mental environment, all your efforts to do this in your physical environment will be in vain.


Setting intention is the starting place of controlling will power. Getting clear on your “zones of intention” as you go about your day will help you to see what you’re actually focusing on. Think through your zones of intention for the day. Resist the temptation to engage in the “Zone of Obligation” as this is not really a zone you intend, but rather one that arises as a result of your previous action. The seeds you planted earlier in life demand harvesting – and you’ll feel the obligation to water them otherwise they will die.


It’s smart to periodically consider the things that you might want to let die. The prospect of something you worked so hard to nurture and grow just die might seem scary. Especially if it’s a job, career or business that is your only source of income. If that’s the case it might be more prudent to plant some seeds that in time will be something that will keep you sustained if and when you decide to let the other “plants” of your past die. The important point here is this: don’t let the majority of your life exist in the Zone of Obligation. The concept is very simple: You should want to spend your time on something. If you don’t – find ways to stop doing it, minimize your time doing it, or find ways to make it more enjoyable. It’s that simple.


One major force in the zone of obligation is email – it is always filling up. Always supplying you with the obligation to response. It’s easy to get lost in this zone and feel like you’re working hard but not getting anywhere. That’s because the zone of obligation is rarely producing anything of significant value – (unless you’re proactively managing it). If you simply make it a point to empty out your inbox each day you are not consciously thinking about what’s moving you closer to your ideal experiences in the future. What are the seeds you want to plant today that might grow into more desirable experiences in the future? Minimize your time in the zone of obligation to just 2 hours or less a day. Penalize yourself if you engage in more than 2 hours a day.

Just by giving myself a 2 hour time-window for being in the Zone of Obligation, I have noticed a significant change in how quickly I sort through my email.

When I first open my inbox, I pick out my priority “A” emails out of all. I respond to them quickly and file the rest away for future use. Instead of making it a goal to clear out all unread messages, now I just try to identify and clear out priority “A” items. If I get to the other ones great, if not – no harm done. My goal is not to get through all my email – its to spend the least amount of time in my email possible and the only way I can do that is if I’m selective about which email I’m handling.

If I have extra “email handling time” because I didn’t hit my two hour daily maximum.. I can handle other emails on a slow day like Saturday or Sunday if I want.. though I don’t really consider that a recreational activity. 🙂 Remember the biggest trap with email is that almost everyone responds to them! The less emails you respond to the less responses you get.. the more your email pile goes down. Most email has no real consequence in your life anyway – so what are you doing responding to them!?


When you first log into your email the last thing you want to do is read a newsletter, even if you care about what’s in it.

Gmail has a great filtering system that allows you to move all your non-urgent emails that you want to get to later, such as if you’ve signed up to newsletters etc.. I’ve created about 4 different newsletter filters for newsletter categories like:

-Favorite Newsletters (All my favorites)
-PD Newsletters (Personal Development & Spiritual Growth)
-IM Newsletters (Internet Marketing)
-Investor Newsletters

With filters you can just have all the emails that come in from newsletters go there for later reading when I proactively plan to go through and read them. For everything else that I’m subscribed to that I don’t care about.. I unsubscribe. Think about the amount of time you spend deleting or archiving irrelevant emails over the course of a year, five years or even ten years – reduce that number as much as possible by keeping it out in the first place.


Having a high value routine already mapped out will help you keep you on track in the areas that are important to you and out of the sticky Zone of obligation. I suggest create a small list of what I call “zones of intention”. This way you can ask yourself at any time during the day: “Which zone am I in right now?”  For example I have created zones like:

Zone of Planning – I’m in this zone whenever I’m planning how I’ll use my time or money.

Zone of Personal Growth – I’m in this zone whenever I’m doing my high value routine (see below).

Zone of Creation – I’m in this zone whenever I’m writing or creating something.

Zone of Recreation – I’m in this zone whenever I’m doing something FUN.

Zone of Obligation – I’m in this zone whenever I’m doing something because I feel like I have to do it.


If you feel obligated to dwell in the Zone of Obligation for any reason – find ways to shortern your time there. Resist going there first thing in the morning. Take charge of your life and proactively decide the things you want to plant today that will lead to a better harvest tomorrow!

To stay out of obligation I create a high value routine or what Anthony Robbins calls “hour of power” or what my friend Yo Pal Hal calls “The Miracle Morning”.  I use a program on my Ipad / Iphone called “Touch Goal”, it allows me to add a number of actions that I want to do on a daily basis and assign a positive point value to them. It also allows me to add actions I don’t want to do, or minimize and add a negative point value to them. This simple system turns positive actions and empowering habits into a bit of a daily game with myself. It helps me live in the zones of intention that I most want to be in and empowers my life.

Here are a sample of positive actions I have setup:

Write Dreams: +10 pts (When I wake up I write my dreams from night before for insights)
Visualize: +20 pts (During meditation I will visualize what I am intending for my life and the world.)
Meditate +20 pts (I focus on breathing 100 deep breaths, relaxing and keeping my attention centered on high value thoughts and behaviors like. I will write about this in another post.)
Exercise: +20 pts (I do a five minute exercise of jumping jacks and affirmations to jump start the day.. something simple to start my day off right and get my heart and blood pumping.)
Read: 20 pts (20pts for every half hour I read)
Eat a Salad: +10 pts
Insight write: +10 pts (I plan to write a 10 minute insight per day, sometimes it takes a little longer.)
Life Write: +10 pts (I spend 10 minutes to reflect on how what I’m doing, logging my time and money usage and what changes I’d like to make)
One Kind Deed: +10 pts
Wealth Hour: +20 pts (For every hour I focus on activities that will genuinely drive revenue into my business like marketing and sales, I give myself 20 pts)

Negative action items:

Check Email: -10pts (I give myself a maximum of 2 hours a day to check email, for every hour I go over I deduct 10 pts)


The important thing to point out is that I’m not trying to get 100% success rate every day. That would drive me crazy and de-motivate me. Instead I’m aiming for about a 70% success rate. And I double up on some items in a single day while not doing others. For example I might read 1 hour a day


It’s important to think-through “why” you’re doing something. You can just list a bunch of action items down and hope that you are going to force yourself to do it every day. You might be able to start it easy enough but your subconscious mind will be analyzing the pay-off and determine whether its worth continuing. You need to come up with your own reasons for doing something.


It’s important to name your action items and assign point values that are meaningful to you. If you aren’t excited to do them, it’s likely you won’t continue to do them. For example I used to call Insight write “Free Blog” as in, a free writing for blog. But “free blog” didn’t really make me feel any kind of emotional juice, but calling it an “Insight write” helped me feel more excited to write down my insights. I used to call the “Life write” action item a “Free write” and again it didn’t really juice me. And in the description part of the task I had alotted 20 minutes for Free write and 20 minutes for Life write.. but when it came down to it, this seemed like a lot of writing! And I wasn’t even sure what I would cover in that time period. So subconsciously I was just kind of skipping over these items. That’s a sign that you need to change something – the name of the action item, the timing of it and the points you give to it.. keep changing it until that all sings to you!


By having the above actions as part my daily routine – I feel like I’m growing physicaly, mentally, spiritually, socially, emotionally and financially each day.


1) If you have an Iphone or Ipad get Touch Goal or setup a program like it on your computer even if its just a simple excel spread sheet.

2) Add in all the key actions you want to perform on a daily basis. Be realistic and think through how much time you’re going to spend doing each item every day. You can use my list or create your own – remember to make it sing for you.

3) Aim for about a 70% success rate over the next few days but give yourself room in the beginning to do less than that. Celebrate small improvements on a daily basis.

4) Keep a daily “life write” to record your success with this system and feel free to share your results with Zones of Intention in this post.

5) Minimize the time you spend in the Zone of Obligation. Try reducing the time you spend on email to less than 2 hours a day and penalize yourself for every hour you go over.


James Rick is founder of Full Potential Academy and host of the Full Potential Show. James helps people young and old people become powerful entrepreneurs and world leaders. Get a free chapter from his book “Unleash Your Full Potential” at