When setting goals, we’ve all heard the phrase ‘SMART’ used before (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time scale). The SMART principle is a great starting point for setting your goals- however there is a far more powerful way that you can set your goals so that they are much more likely to be achieved.When you set a goal it can be also known as an outcome that you want to achieve.
This powerful way of setting goals is what’s known as setting Well Formed Outcomes and literally blows the SMART principle right out the water and is extremely useful for giving yourself the best chance of achieving your goals…
Lets look at each of the well formed conditions for outcomes or goals:
1. Stated in the positive.
It’s vitally important that when you set your goals that you make them positive! That way we are constantly focused on what we actually do want (not what we don’t want). The reason we do this is because of a simple NLP principle which states ‘what we focus on increases in our minds’. Therefore it is much more useful to have what we do want to increase in our minds rather than what we don’t want’. That’s why you should always set your goals with the outcome that you want in your mind.
2. Specific, measurable and undeniable
The more specific and measurable your goal, the more you will know whether or not you are on target and when you have achieved it. Your goal needs to be so specific you know exactly what it will feel like when you achieve it. Make it so specific you will undeniably know when you have achieved it. Don’t forget that part of being specific is to be objective, make sure there are some numbers and figures.
3. Target date
You must make sure you are specific with the time and date that you want to achieve your goal. Just saying things like ‘within 6 months’ or ‘on 1st October’ are not specific enough. Sometimes you will need to extend the initial target date so that we really know we have achieved what we want. Try setting your next goal with a specific date and even a specific time of the day.
4. Under our influence
When the achievement of a goal is under our influence, and we can initiate and maintain progress towards it we are much more likely to achieve it then if we have little influence or control over it. This doesn’t mean that we have to do everything ourselves, however we must be smart about it. Your own goals should not be 100% dependant on anyone else. ‘If it’s going to be me, it’s up to me!’
5. Ecological, Responsible and right for you
The positive consequences must always outweigh the negative consequences
Some key points that the goals you set must be:
- Appropriate for all areas of your life
- The positive consequences must far outweigh any negative consequences for you and those around you
- They must be aligned with what you really want and who you really are.
- Worth the time, money, energy and effort that it takes to achieve them
6. The goal beyond the goal
One of the single most important factors that people don’t achieve their goals is that they do not have a goal beyond that goal. If there is nothing beyond your goals to strive for, the goal starts to loose it’s meaning and could even become ‘pointless’. A goal becomes more motivating if you know that by achieving it, other possibilities become available and that there are more opportunities. If a goal becomes more motivating then it becomes more likely that we will do whatever it takes to achieve it.
7. Realistic and Achievable
Of course a goal or outcome must be achievable and realistic if you want any hope of achieving it. Here are some useful pointers:
- Is the first step specified and achievable – if not then it is a recipe for procrastination
- Is there more than one way to achieve the goal? The more options the better
- As yourself ‘Could someone else in a broadly similar situation to me achieve this goal’ if the answer is yes that the goal is realistic and achievable. (At the same time, make sure you set goals that are challenging)
What resources and skills do you need to achieve this goal? Resources can be anything from specific tools (textbooks, articles, books, laser printers etc) through to personal attributes such as humour or confidence. If you don’t have the personal resources, try acting ‘as if’ you had the personal resources (to a reasonable extent!)
9. As if now
It is important to already have a mental image of having already achieved the goal you want. Napoleon Hill found that when he interviewed a number of successful people, they already acted as if they had acheived the goal that they wanted. Say your goal in the ‘now’ as if it has already happened. Avoid using the phrases ‘I want…’ or ‘I will have…’ when setting your goals. Say it as if you have already achieved it!
10. Write them down!
When you make a new goal, make sure that you write it down and date it! This is so that when you get to reviewing your goals you can measure how you have progressed since you set the goal. How can you measure something if you can’t remember it!
As 2011 draws to an end and the new year starts to approach make sure that you set some time aside to set your goals for the coming year. Spend some time thinking about and setting these goals for all areas of your life (personal, business, relationships etc). Make sure you keep them somewhere safe and you constantly review them throughout the year.
If you implement this process of setting Well Formed Outcomes then 2012 could be one of your best years yet!(References for this article have been taken from Jeremey Lazarus’s Book ‘Successful NLP’.)
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