The beginning of a new year is usually a time for setting new goals. Goals can relate to health, business, personal growth, relationship or wealth. More often than not however, all our good intentions fizzle and we fail to follow through. Either we lose focus and motivation, procrastinate, change our minds, or simply give up.
There are some deeper underlying reasons causing our goals to fail. The common ones I see in my clinic are:
Do I really want to change?
If you are honest with yourself, maybe deep down you are not ready for change or haven’t consciously made the decision to stop drinking, or lose weight, or exercise. Perhaps you are doing it to please someone else or because you have been told to do so.
And those “wants” are going to override the good intentions of your resolutions.
Reaching goal only works when our conscious and unconscious beliefs and intentions are aligned and congruent.
We may have beliefs and thoughts that conflicts with the goal on a deeper level that you may not even be conscious about.
You may want to do something but you fear the repercussions of it or have some secondary gain from the negative pattern and not wish to give that up.
For example if your goal is to stop smoking, consciously you really would like to achieve it, you know it is not healthy, but on the other hand on a deeper level you may have associated smoking to social encounters and reaching this goal means for you (or you believe it means) you will miss the social moments with your friends or colleagues and you are fearing to be alone or perhaps it is something that calms you and you are fearing that you would not be able to cope in stressful situations.
Another example, you would like to lose weight because this will give you the confidence to start dating again. If dating is anxiety provoking, then not losing weight is reinforced.
Fear of failure (another form of incongruence) has killed so many dreams before they have a chance to take off. Sometimes the need to avoid failure is so great that one can become completely stuck – not willing to do something new and risk failure. This leads to tremendous stress and frustration over time.
As a holistic kinesiologist and NLP practitioner, I help my clients become aware of their subconscious secondary gain and clear any limiting beliefs or emotions that are at the origin of the self-sabotage pattern preventing them from reaching their dreams. Awareness is the first step towards change.
Another core aspect of successfully reaching goals is to work towards a good quality refined one.
I often see clients whose goals are too vague, unrealistic, not within their control. In this case, I help them reframing their goal.
You may have heard of a commonly used goal setting technique in coaching called S.M.A.R.T. In this tool a goal has to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely/Time bound.
Here I will introduce you to another tool called “Well-Formed Outcomes” originating from Neuro-Linguistic-Programming (NLP) which I use in my clinic (or partially use). It takes the SMART goals to a different level.
It is focused on the outcome as opposed to the goal by specifying WHO you will become when achieving your goal. It puts your whole mind-body into that outcome as if you have achieved it already and open your thinking to means of improving that outcome.
It forces you to think through many things outside of the SMART tool.
It allows you to avoid the traps and 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.
This model is presented below.
To use it, grab a piece of paper and follow each of the steps answering the questions as you go along.
Write down your thoughts and modify your desired outcome as required. It can take several days to establish what it is that we really want. In the end, this planning phase will pay off by having you 100% focused on your goal.
Step 1: State your outcome in positive terms:
State what you want, not what you do not want.
E.g. “I do not want to be alone”. Instead it is better to state “I want to be surrounded by people”
Negative aspect should not form part of a goal. It puts your focus on something that you are trying to avoid. The unconscious absorbs pictures rather than words. So if you say, “I don’t want to be alone,” the unconscious generates a picture of you being alone. Switching that picture from the negative to the positive takes an extra step. Better to tell your unconscious, “I’m surrounded”
Goal must be related to self not to others since you cannot control anyone’s actions.
Also, the goal must be stated in the present tense as if already achieved. The unconscious mind only recognises all time as present.
Words like “I am….” send a different signal to our brain than “I will” or “I want”.
In the example above the outcome would be stated “I’m surrounded by….”
Step 2: Define the outcome in sensory based terms
State the outcome by using your 5 senses in the here and now.
This will activate the mind-body and send a message to your subconscious to align with the goal.
It will also help you know when your goal is achieved.
Do you know what it will look, sound and feel like as you begin to achieve and get your outcome?
Where in your body do you feel it?
If you don’t how will you really know you have achieved, it?
Represent what you will be doing and thinking when you live your outcome. Create a movie in your mind of life beyond obtaining it.
Is that something that you really want? Modify the goal into smaller chunk if this vision is not compelling.
Step 3: Define the context of the outcome
Describe your well-formed outcome in the context of the environment it will be in. Be specific.
Add places, locations, geography, people and their titles, a budget, time frames, and more. By making it specific and context related, you’re making it real for your brain.
This step is achieved by answering the “W” questions: Why? Where? When? How often and With whom etc…do you want it?
If easier you can always start by where, when and with whom do you not want it? and reframe in the positive with more clarity.
In the example above, “ I’m surrounded by people” who specifically? Your family? Your partner? Friends? Which people would you like to have in your life? How close would you like them to be? Etc…
If you are in a busy mall you may be surrounded by people but this is not really what you asked for so be specific and tell your body-mind exactly what it is that you want.
Step 4: Check if you have ownership
Is it within your own ability to initiate and maintain what it takes to realise this objective?
If you need external factors that are not under your control, it is not within your own power. Are you able to do this?
Make sure that your goal is under your control and you are not dependent upon others to start and maintain it.
In the example above, “I’m surrounded by like-minded people”, we would need to explore the context a bit more and rephrase the goal around action to take towards creating the opportunities to meet like minded people.
Step 5: Sequence the outcome into smaller steps and stages Chunk your goal down into little steps, specific stages and behaviours. This makes your goal more actionable, more believable, more achievable, and easier to accomplish.
What are the steps involved in reaching this goal?
What are the stages involved?
Is this goal chunked down into small enough bits so that you feel that each piece is do-able?
Does the size of this outcome seem overwhelming to you at all?
For example if your goal is to write a book, transforming it into writing a page a day for x days would make it less overwhelming.
Step 6: Identify the resources you need:
Describe the resources you will need to achieve your outcome.
How will you do this?
What are the internal resources required? e.g courage, patience, self-esteem, confidence.
What are the external resources required? time, money, training, office, authority, people etc…?
Again be specific, if you need time for example, how much exactly do you need, by when, how will you make sure you have this time.
Do you already have the resources? Or are they available to you? If not, the objective may not be realistic and you may need to define a goal that focuses on obtaining these resources first or reworking your initial goal.
In the example of wanting to be surrounded by people, the first step may be clearing the emotions of fear of loss and anxiety that cramps up each time you are close to someone or if you leave in an isolated place perhaps it is to buy a car.
Whatever it is these will become the initial focus in the big picture.
Step 7: What is your evidence for fulfillment?
Determine how you will know that you are progressing in the right direction.
For example if your goal is to “I want to be successful in business” or “I want to be more confident”? What does successful mean to you or confident? How can I measure this outcome?
How will you know that your outcome has been realised?
What will let you know that you have attained that desired state?
How do you know when to exit?
When are you there?
When will you feel satisfied?
Step 8: Is the outcome compelling?
Is the outcome compelling? Does it pull on you?
Will it get you up out of bed in the morning? How much do you want this?
How much do you feel this is compelling from 0 to 10 if 10 is absolute? How much do you need this to feel motivating?
What do you need to do to make it more sparkling for you? What would make this really sparkle?
Think of your outcomes not as end results, but as means to achieve a great and compelling purpose.
Step 9: Is the outcome ecological?
Goals impacts our lives and relationships. This step is to ensure congruence and evaluate that the impact of the outcome is something that you are fine with. Our subconscious will fight anything that appears to be a threat to our perceived safety.
Is the outcome right or good for you?
Any reason why you might not want to get the outcome?
What will you gain through it? What will you lose?
Does it fit with your values, your family life, your work, your relationships, your health?
Are there any parts of you that object to actualising this desired outcome?
What will and will not happen when you get it?
Do you still want this goal?
Based upon all the questions you just answered above, do you still want this goal? Is it within your power?
If you answer “No” to any of the question above, then edit the outcome or break it down into short term goal until you have a firm yes.
What are some tasks that you need to do straight away to demonstrate your commitment to working towards the desired outcome? Take the first step towards it.
For support or any questions about the process of creating a “well-formed outcome” or working on specific blockages or limiting beliefs, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit: www.creatingspacetherapies.com.au