Well-Defined Outcomes

A well-defined outcome answers the question, “What do you really want?”. State your outcome/goal in positive, specific terms. Take the time to describe exactly what you want. A negative goal does not take you in this positive direction. Avoid goals such as, “I do not want to be a perfectionist.”  A “not frame” encourages the subconscious mind to create what you think you are resisting. If you erase a problem and replace it with something positive and resourceful, what would it be? Describe it. Include all key sense modes.

Consider, “I want others to support me.” That is not a well-formed outcome. Actually, thinking this way will stop you from making progress! It is true that some goals require the support of additional people, but this vague outcome doesn’t say what you will do to get the support and what, exactly, that support entails. Consider this alternative: “By the end of the week, I will have created and used an approach that will get a very positive response from people on this issue. I will continue to improve it until it is very effective.” 

Note that the outcome is based on your actions. Plus, it must be within your responsibility and ability. Ask yourself or your client: What could you do on your own to make it happen? What actions would you take to increase your chances this week? 

The meaning of any event or action is usually defined by context. Describe your well-formed outcome in the context of the environment it will be in. This makes your goal more specific and motivational. It also helps to make sure that you have created an ecological goal. A more well-formed, context-related outcome would be: “I want to make $65,000 within the next 12 months, starting July 1st, by selling my NLP skills to insurance agencies as a sales trainer for their telemarketing team.”  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. Another thought on context: Where wouldn’t you want that behavior to be acted upon? For example, would you want to play like a child with your kids everyday to make them feel more joyful with you? Great. But you wouldn’t want to act the same way with your spouse in bed, right? That’s why context is extremely important. You can make a goal of talking with more passion and sexiness to your wife, but if you forget the context being “with the wife,” you might slip the wrong tonality talking with your boss.

Describe your outcome by using your five senses. A well-formed outcome is specific. By adding all senses, you are being more specific and, again, motivational. This adds power to your positive subconscious strategies. If you have to use a word such as love, appreciated, or passionate, be sure to include the senses that form that emotion. From a sensory point of view, what does it mean for you to feel more appreciated? How does ‘appreciated’ feel? In what part of your body do you feel it? Who is appreciating you, and what kind of expression is on their face?

Break down your goal into manageable objectives (pieces), so that you will feel more motivated and do better problem solving. Be sure to define the objectives in achievable terms. Smaller steps feel more achievable. This adds subconscious motivation. In NLP we call this breakdown “chunking down.” How do you feel when you think about writing a whole book? Or losing 60 pounds? Compare that to smaller pieces. “I will write a page a day to complete a 240 page book. Today I will concentrate only on that one page.” How do you eat an elephant? One piece at a time.

Arrange the help you need in order to make this outcome a reality. What resources do you need? Make a list of the resources you will use in attaining your goal. Let’s say an important resource is team members, and a resource for acquiring them is a persuasive pitch. This outcome includes both: “By the end of the week, I will have a complete list of people that are good candidates for teaming up on this project. By the end of the following week, I will have created a persuasive approach for contacting them, and I will have called at least twenty of them. I will continue until I have five credible commitments.”

Who are the people who can assist you? What are their names? What is their profession? How about their phone numbers? What, exactly, should you ask them? What emotions will you need to develop within yourself? Do you need more confidence, resilience, joyfulness, or assertiveness? How much money? What information will be important? What questions must be answered ahead of time? What else do you need?

What might be interfering with your goal? Are there any values, other goals, people, or laws that may be challenging? How might you accommodate or mitigate now in order to make your dream a reality? Consider any internal obstacles you may have. Is a part of you interfering with your goal?

Determine how you will know that you are progressing in the right direction and at the right pace. You must know what signs of progress you will be observing along the way. One way to create milestones is to place the resources from your checklist onto a timeline. Vagueness about milestones is a warning sign. Mark on your calendar the dates that you will be checking each milestone. Note in your plan exactly what you want to see by that date.Being a great lover is an awesome goal; but what about learning to read the body language of the person you’re with? That would be excellent progress toward your goal. Even something that seems insignificant can be a good milestone. If you want to become rich, balancing your checkbook is part of your master plan, as trivial as it seems.

There are many benefits to writing down your goals, objectives and milestones. Having a notebook or file for this gives you a place for problem solving and innovation. Sometimes a stray thought will turn into a gold mine when you come across it later. Having separate sections for these elements gives you a working reference for checking milestones, refining your goals, and working toward your objectives. Unwritten goals aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, but the written word is powerful. Wouldn’t it be worse to see your name on a “Most Wanted” poster than to hear about it?

Monitor your progress on the goal and its milestones. Keep this in a conspicuous place to remind you. Notice any ways that this technique has helped you make progress toward achieving your goal. Do this technique as needed for other goals and for refining this goal. Notice any ways that this technique has improved your willingness to be more conscious of your goals and milestones, and to commit yourself to them. Note all obstacles that you encounter and decide which NLP patterns might help you with them. Part of the beauty of this technique is making obstacles more obvious, so you can handle them.

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