Achieve Your Goals by Setting Well-Formed Outcomes

What I want to accomplish in this post is to explain how you can achieve the goals you want while attending to the conditions necessary to do so. In yesterday’s post, Have You Set SMART Goals?, I described the SMART conditions necessary to achieve goals. One you have described the goal, this Outcomes process will ensure that you achieve your goal.

Well-formedness conditions are the set of conditions your outcome must satisfy in order to produce an effective and ecological result. A particular goal is considered “well-formed” if it meets the following conditions.

A well-formed goal can be…

  1. Stated in positive terms.
  2. Defined and evaluated according to sensory-based evidence.
  1. Initiated and maintained by the person who desires the goal.
  1. Made to preserve the positive by-products of the present state.
  2. Appropriately contextualized to fit the ecology of the surrounding system.

Goals should be stated in positive terms, for the unconscious mind does not understand a goal stated in the negative. So a goal like “I don’t want to be broke” or “I don’t want to be sick” would need to be changed into what someone does want. Try asking a question like this: “If you weren’t broke, what would you want instead?” It’s easier to motivate yourself towards a positive outcome.

Next, you must be able to measure the outcome against a destination or benchmark. So ask something like this: “What will let you know you are moving towards your goal?” (This also implies knowing when you are not moving towards your goal.) You can flesh it out further by asking yourself or a client, “What will you see, hear and feel when you have achieved your outcome?” Get information that is as specific as possible.

Make sure that the achievement of the goal depends on what you do, not on what someone else has control over. For example, if you say, “I want my boss to respect me,” that is not in your control. If you were coaching someone in this instance, you could ask, “What would your boss be doing if he were respecting you?” The response to that could then lead to asking how your client might behave to get the desired response.

Keep in mind the idea that all behaviors have a positive benefit in some context. For this example, consider someone who wants to stop smoking. It turns out that for this person, smoking helped manage stress. Unless the new behavior includes a way to manage stress, the original positive by-products will not be maintained. Missing this can result in what many people label as self-sabotage. This is where thinking systemically is helpful.

Lastly, you want to explore the areas of context and ecology. By context I mean looking at the areas you want the outcome in. Sometimes you might mark out the goal as absolute, using words like always or in all areas. Consider that in some areas an old behavior might still serve you, and in some contexts a new behavior might actually be a problem. To assess this, ask questions like, “Will getting this outcome be a problem for anyone else?” or “Could having this outcome be a problem for me (or you, in the case of a client) in any way?” Achieving a new financial goal might potentially cause alienation in a family. If you become very successful, a partner might feel threatened. Asking the right questions teases these issues out so they can be planned for.

Now you have several ways to check your goals… and your clients’ goals. Using this process in conjunction with the SMART process should make your goal setting much more successful.

Good luck in 2013, and may you achieve what your heart desires!

I would love to hear what you think about this. Please share your feedback and comments below.

P.S. Do you want to share this post? Please do. Just be sure that it remains intact and includes the following bio.

About Terry: Terry Hickey, M.S., is a Certified NLP Professional Coach, Business Trainer and Consultant, a Certified Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the co-owner of NLP Advantage Group. Originator of the Belief Breakthrough Method™, Terry specializes in teaching coaches and entrepreneurs how to rapidly resolve limiting beliefs about wealth and success. His tips and strategies can help you launch yourself into the future you want… NOW. http://terryhickey.com/

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