8 steps to ensure that your New Year's goal is achievable
It is January, the time of year when the partying is over and reality hits. Most people will be reflecting on the past year and planning on the year ahead. It is a time when people make resolutions and set goals and outcomes. Some goals will be achieved easily, others will be more challenging and some will be almost impossible. NLP offers you 8 steps that increase the likelihood of achieving your goals.
Here they are:
1. State the outcome in positive terms
This is simply to focus on what you do want rather than on what you don’t want. As I explained in earlier blogs, the brain cannot process the negatives. Therefore if you were to express your goal by saying, “ I don’t want to smoke anymore”, your mind will have to focus on smoking first before processing what not smoking is. In other words you end up focusing on the very thing you don’t want to happen and that is not your intention. Stated positively, this goal would be “I want to stop smoking”, “I want to spend more time with my children” or “I want to lead a healthier lifestyle”.
The question to ask is:
What do you want? Or, what would you rather have?
2. Ensure the outcome is within your control
If your goal depends on the actions of other people then it is unlikely to be achievable in NLP terms. For example, “I want my son to get top grades in his final exams” is not totally within your control as it depends on the actions of your son. Alternatively the outcome,
“ I will do everything I can to support my son in getting top grades in his final exams” is within your control as it relates to your actions of say creating a peaceful environment at home that is conducive to studying.
To make sure that your outcome is within your control ask yourself these questions:
Am I doing this for myself or someone else?
Does the outcome rely solely on me?
3. Be specific and define the evidence procedure
In NLP, by specific we mean to be sensory specific – what can be seen heard or felt. Most people state their goal vaguely. For example “I want to be rich”. To get more specific in NLP we should ask the following question: “What do you mean by rich?” Rich in money, friends or knowledge?” How rich do you want to be?” Answering these questions provides more detail, leading to a vivid and realistic goal.
When I see clients for the first time and they reveal to me the outcome they want to achieve from the sessions, I usually ask them the following:
How will you know when you have achieved your goal? What will you see, hear and feel when you get it?”
This helps the client to define his/her evidence procedure in a sensory-based manner. The more specific details we can provide the more likely it is that we will get what we want.
4. Make sure it is appropriately contextualized
The question to ask here is:
Where, when, how and with whom do you want to achieve your outcome?
This is to check for the existence of conflict. For example, “I want to spend more time with my family” might mean less time at work. Are you fine with that? Maybe some boundaries need to be established for the outcome to be achievable.
5. Have access to resources
The main aim in NLP is to support people in moving from their “current state” to their “desired state”. So the question is “Where are you now in relation to your goal and what resources do you need to achieve it?” Resources can be internal such as skills or knowledge, or external such as money or contacts. The questions to ask are:
What resources do I have now?
What resources do I need to acquire?
Have I done something similar to this before?
Do I know someone who has?
What happens if I act as if I have the resources?
The last question helps to shift any beliefs that maybe holding you back.
6. Ensure the outcome preserves existing benefits
This step ensures that the outcome once achieved is long lasting. For example if getting that promotion means less time with your children, an existing benefit that will be lost, might mean losing your motivation in the long term. In NLP such benefits are referred to as “secondary gains”. Ask yourself this:
What will I lose if I attain my outcome?
7. Check the outcome is ecological
This is to check on the consequences achieving your goal would have on the environment around you. Do you want this outcome no matter what? The four NLP questions to ask yourself here are:
What will happen if you achieve this outcome?
What won’t happen if you achieve this outcome?
What will happen if you don’t achieve this outcome?
What won’t happen if you don’t achieve this outcome?
8. Define the first step
“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”
Lao-Tzu, an ancient Taoist philosopher
That is a saying worth remembering as change is not always dramatic but more of a slow progress towards what you want. The question to ask is:
What action can you take today that can get you nearer to achieving your outcome?
Breaking down your plan into achievable steps is necessary for the achievement of your goal. Some people find it easier to start with the final step, which is their goal, and work their way backward. If your outcome is to start your own business then maybe your first step is to sit down and write a business plan. Defining that first step is a final and important part towards achieving your outcome.
Recommended reading: What’s Stopping You? by Robert Kelsey