It is said that the goal are “dreams with legs” they go somewhere. They take you somewhere. We all have dreams. Let us use goals to put legs underneath those dreams.
As we have crossed the middle of year 2017, it is right time to start thinking of your goals for 2018. Goal setting is a long procedure where first we spend sometime to ponder about our present state and our satisfaction levels with it, what would be our desired state. This takes some time, sometimes even days. You have to think through various options that you have. You cannot expect to set goals for 2018 on the evening of December 31.
The NLP well formed outcomes (a.k.a. NLP well-defined outcomes), also written as NLP Well-Formed Outcomes, is a great tool to help you in evaluating your goals and make sure that they are good for you. They are something that you want to have.
You might have heard about SMART goals which is a powerful tool to evaluate your goals. SMART is an acronym for:
S – Specific
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Timely/Time bound
For years SMART goals worked very well for me, but sometimes they failed. Many times I worked on a goal only to realize that this is not something I want and abandon it. Sometimes I felt that I started with vague idea about the goal even though it was specific and measurable.
Then I came across NLP Well-Formed outcomes. NLP Well-Formed outcomes takes the SMART goals to a different level. It includes all the conditions of SMART goals and yet forces you to think through many things outside these conditions which you would not have otherwise thought about.
This can save you a lot of time/effort and make sure that you work on the goals that you really want and which are good for you.
NLP Well-Formed Outcomes is a set of conditions to run your goal through. If the goal (or outcome as it is known in NLP) passes through these conditions then it is said to be well-formed and has got the higher chance of materializing.
As we run through these conditions, I would recommend you to think about a short-medium term goal of yours and evaluate it w.r.t these conditions. It is always better to start small at learning stage and then scale it up. Once the exercise is finished do it for long term goals.
State your goal in positive terms
State the goal in positive terms. It has to be something that you want (versus something that you don’t want)
My goal is to weigh 60 Kgs by June 1, 2018 versus Losing 20 Kilogram by June 1, 2018
Defined in sensory based terms
What will you see, feel and hear (and maybe smell and taste) when your major milestones you achieve this goal?
What will you see, feel and hear (and maybe smell and taste) when your outcome is achieved?
Engage all your senses (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, smell and taste)
Define the context of the goal
Where, when, and with whom do you want it?
Where, when and with whom do you not want it?
Self-initiated and maintained
Ensure that the outcome is in your control.
Can you initiate this goal by yourself?
Can you maintain this goal by yourself?
Are there other people involved? If yes, then how will the outcome benefit those people. (In NLP this is known as dovetailing outcomes. )
Make sure that your goal is under your control and you are not dependent upon others to start and maintain it.
Describe the evidence procedure
How will you know you are achieving it?
How will you know that you have achieved it?
Do this exercise for all the major milestones and your ultimate outcome.
Preserve the positive by-product
There is certain benefit of not working on this goal. Consider a person who wants to quit smoking. He might be smoking because it relaxes him. Here relaxation is called the positive by-product of smoking.
The goal must preserve this positive by-product. If this positive by-product isn’t preserved there is always a tendency of the person to revert to old behavior.
If your goal is to start exercise regime in 2018, what is the positive by-product of not exercising as of now. And how are you going to preserve it when you are regularly exercising?
Identify the resources you need.
Resource check: What resources (internal and external) do you need to achieve this goal?
What resources do you have now?
And what resources do you need to acquire?
How will you aquire the resources you need?
Internal resources: Motivation, confidence, desire, will-power etc.
External resources: Money, office, books, trainings, mentors and role-models.
Check that your goal is ecological
Our goals impact our lives and relationships. Evaluate that this impact is something that you are fine with.
What will I lose or gain when I have it?
And what will and will not happen when I get it?
What will and won’t happen if I don’t get it?
Do you still want this goal?
Based upon all the questions you just answered above, do you still want this goal?
Describe the first step
What can you do immediately to achieve this goal. Describe the first step no-matter how small or big it is.