How can you get what you want unless you know what it is? Many of us think we know what we want. We know we want a nice house on the beach, or a new car, or more time to spend with friends and family.
However, while we may have an idea about what we want in life sometimes we haven’t really given thought to how to get what we want, what the real costs will be when we get it, or even if getting what we want is aligned with our values and life’s purpose.
Without thinking seriously about these aspects, getting what we want may be impossible, or in the end turn out to be not at all like what we thought it would be.
Understanding fully what you want is fundamental to achieving your goals. In NLP, we call this outcome thinking. Another term for this is goal oriented thinking. However, in NLP an outcome is different than a mere goal or objective, which only defines a desired state. An NLP outcome does that as well, but also takes into consideration several conditions that makes the outcome achievable, realistic, and aligned with core values and purpose.
What is a “well-formed outcome?”
A “well-formed outcome” is basically a well thought out, well defined goal or objective that takes into consideration not only the end goal, but how to achieve it, criteria for deciding when you have achieved it, and acknowledgement of the consequences of having achieved it.
By carefully considering all of these aspects of your desired outcomes you can have them so well formed in your own mind that it becomes almost certain that you will achieve them, and be satisfied when you do.
Here is how you make a well-formed outcome
Ask yourself, and write down on a piece of paper, the following questions:
1. Think about and write down the goal as a positive
a. As an example: “I will make sure I go for a walk tomorrow,” instead of “I won’t sit around my room all day.” Notice how the first sentence is positive (“I will…”) and the second is negative (“I won’t”).
b. In other words, you are thinking about the goal in terms of getting what you want, instead of not getting what you don’t want.
2. Imagine in great detail what it will be like when you achieve the goal
a. How will you know when you have it?
b. Try and really experience having the goal – what will you see, hear, feel, smell, taste, etc. once you have it? (Meditation is great for this!)
3. Is achieving the goal really under your control?
a. Can you start working on it without help from others?
b. Can you get it on your own?
c. If not, then maybe setting some goals that you need to achieve before this one is the best way to achieve it.
4. Make certain you understand exactly when, where, how and with whom you want to achieve the goal.
a. Do you want it now? Next week? A year from now? Five years from now?
b. Do you want to share it with somebody? Who?
c. How do you want to achieve it?
5. Make sure that when you achieve the goal you are not giving up other things that you have right now but don’t want to give up.
a. In other words, think about what will happen when you achieve the goal? Will it make your life better? Will it cause you to lose some things that you don’t want to lose?
b. IS IT REALLY WORTH ACHIEVING?
6. Is the goal “ecological” for you – or is it “you?”a. Is the goal really desirable for you?
b. Will achieving the goal violate any of your principles or values?
c. What will achieving the goal cost?
i. How much time will it take? Is it worth it?
ii. What will it cost? Is it worth the cost?
iii. Is it in keeping with your sense of self? Is it “you?”
After giving careful though to and answering these key questions you should have a very clear picture of your outcome in mind. If the outcome is a long term goal, it helps to keep the well-formed outcome description in front of you, and review it periodically to reinforce the picture.
In working through this process you may find that there are several smaller well-formed outcomes to be generated as part of achieving the larger goal. Go through the same process with each, and work on these individually with the larger goal in mind. Breaking larger goals into smaller chunks is often a very effective way of achieving it.