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Well-Formed Outcomes: Getting Beyond SMART!

31 Dec 13
Daniel Smith
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New Year is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come and where we want to go next. Many people will set ‘new years resolutions’. That they will break within weeks. If not days. There are many tips (eg here) on how to get better results. Here I want to focus on how we can use NLP in this context.

  1. What do you want, specifically? When?
    Make sure you state the outcome as something that you want (rather than something that you don’t want). If you’re striving to eliminate something – whether it’s sugar, smoking or success – phrase the outcome as something that you want. For example, “Consistently enjoy coffee without sugar” or “To be free from the habit of smoking” or “To earn $x000 in 2014”. Big goals are great here – provided you feel you can reach them or at least can act as if you can.
  2. How will you know when you’ve got it?
    Make it measurable: What’s your evidence procedure for reaching your outcome? What will you see? What will you hear? What will you feel, smell or taste? Do you want to go for a week without sugar in your coffee? Do you want to go for 30 days (or more) without smoking? Will you have a work contract for earning that amount – or will the money be in your account? If you want to have a better relationship, how specifically will you know?
  3. Can it be done?
    Setting big goals is a great thing. The bigger the goal, the more inspiring it can be, and the harder you are likely to work. Provided you believe that it can actually be done. I like to talk about making things here possible on two levels: Objectively and subjectively. Objectively achievable means that it is physically possible for that to be done. Subjectively achievable means that you believe that you can do it. While there are few things as inspiring as a big goal, there are few things as disinspiring as an impossible one.
  4. What resources do I have?
    What would I like to have? What could make this easier/ more enjoyable/ more congruent with the rest of what I’m doing?
  5. When, specifically, do you want to reach your outcome?
    And once you’ve set that date, what are the steps to take working back to today?
  6. What do I want that for?
    What is my intention for being/ having/ doing/ experiencing that? While a goal can be a good thing, they often point to things that are even more important – and that sometimes can be even easier to enjoy.
  7. How does it impact your life as a whole?
    Does this outcome take into account the need for balance? Is it aligned with what you really want? What are your highest intentions – and how will they be impacted? Connect with your intuition: When you think about having this outcome, how do you feel? Does having that outcome make you feel excited, passionate and thrilled? Or anxious, scared and nervous?
  8. Is it worth it?
    Consider the costs and benefits. Short term and long term. For yourself and for those around you. When all is said and done, is it worth it?

We talk more about this in the context of building Well-Formed Outcomes but hopefully this will help you for now.