10/02/2013 12:26 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

The Other ROI: Return on Intention

I grew up in a household where I often heard, The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And in those moments, living under the guidance of parents who were of a Christian background, I guess I "got it." It was really only said when I, as a child, probably professed something such as, I didn't mean to hurt my sister's feelings. I was only trying to help her. This saying didn't quite make much sense to me back then, nor is it logical now.

Regardless of the beliefs instilled upon me in the past, I operate my entire life, including my business, focused on The Other ROI: Return on Intention.

Most often, ROI refers to Return on Investment. In the traditional business world, ROI is a profitability measure that evaluates the performance of a business by dividing net profit by net worth. ROI, when you get right down to it, deals with the money you invest in the company and the return you realize on that money based on the net profit of the business. And while this equation is important in its own right, it is very head-centric and can only capture hard, numerical data.

Heart-Centered Decisions
I am a heart-centered individual and small business owner. This means that the decisions I make on a daily basis come from a place of love, compassion, and integrity. While I do use my head to analyze and look at all angles of a situation, in the end, I have partnered with my heart and intuition, trusting them as my guides and decision makers.

This is where the principle known as Return on Intention comes into play. I first encountered this term about a year ago, while working with my business coach, Anastacia Brice. At the time, I was trying to figure out if I should attend a business conference and networking event that had a hefty price tag. My coach asked me to think not in terms of money, for the moment, but in terms of intention. What were my goals for the event? What intentions would I set before arriving? What might come of the relationships I built while at that event, later in the year?

My coach's questioning was brilliant and made me think and reflect on the decisions I was making with new clarity. My entire life, and business, has changed with this new paradigm of thought: intention over investment.

Focused Intent
When you have a focused intent, you are determined to do [something]. And when you have a heart-centered focus of intent, you are determined to do [something] from a place of love, kindness, and compassion. And if you believe in the Law of Reciprocity, then Return on Intention is a guiding principle which just makes perfect sense.

Applying Return on Intention To Daily Life
Each morning, when I climb out of bed, I set an intention for the day. Today's intention was to be clear in my language, choosing words rooted in encouragement and love. I knew what tasks had to be tackled today: I needed to write a newsletter and this article, and conduct six phone consultations with people who have never spoken with me before, as well as write a new page of website copy for my website. In addition, several phone calls had to be made today, one to my doctor's office who seems to keep royally messing up all my files and paperwork, and one to the life-insurance company of my recently deceased father-in-law. Add into this mix the encouraging and loving words needed to keep my marriage alive and happy, and you can see why my intention today was completely focused on compassionate word choice!

Because I took time this morning to mentally focus on the intention of the day, my decisions and words came from a place of love and compassion and honesty. My heart-focused intent kept me from using hateful words with the physician's office, even though my head really, really wanted to revert to that place of spite. In return, I was able to speak with the office manager and tell him exactly why I was leaving that practice and how it could improve certain aspects for future patients. He appreciated my approach and honesty, and it was my intention that guided this conversation.

During one of my consultations today, I spoke with a woman who asked me to write a traditional sales page for her. The going rate for sales pages is about $3000, but I turned down the offer. Why? Because I don't buy into the language trickery and string-people-along-approach of lengthy sales pages. It's not my style. It's very head-centric, and lacks the heart-centric approach I have modeled my life around. In return, I feel superb knowing that I am not sending out contracts for writing services which I could never fulfill wholeheartedly, nor from a place of integrity and love.

What is Your ROI?
Are you head-centric and focussed on hard, calculated numbers, measuring all success in terms of dollar signs and decimal points? Or are you choosing to live heart-centric, measuring your success based on the love you generate and receive, and the positive relationships you maintain and build?

Most of our society measures success in dollars and decimal points, and it's easy to get wrapped up and brainwashed by this mentality and "success metric." But life is so much more than dollars and decimal points. Life is about enjoying every moment and making a positive impact on others, using your unique talents to do so. Life is about building quality relationships and sharing your love with those who love you. Life is about making decisions every single day which are aligned with your core values and beliefs, and never having to second guess if you had to check your dignity or integrity at the door, in order to justify the decision.

Some will argue that you can't pay the bills by making decisions from a heart-centered place. I am living proof that this is not case. My business, having just launched seven months ago, is thriving. I am able to choose which clients I want to work with, and the Law of Reciprocity is strong -- my ideal clients are finding me based on my actions and words, which come from a place of love, and my reputation, which is built on the pillars of dignity, mutual respect, compassion, and honesty.

If you define success solely based on the balance in your bank account, I encourage you to do some soul searching. Are you truly happy? Are you able to enjoy all aspects of your life fully? Do you put relationship building first, above everything else? Might the Return on Intention principle be a better approach than the long-held Return on Investment belief?

Return on Intention and the Law of Reciprocity may just be the two greatest guiding principles since sliced bread. And you can invest that statement in your heart-centered bank!