Now that we are well into the month of January, I wonder how many of us have given a second thought to the “resolutions” we made back at the start of the month. According to Forbes Magazine only 8 percent of resolutions are actually kept. That means that a whopping 92 percent fail!
As a leadership coach, I am often charged with helping executives create goals (or resolutions for lack of a better term). As we work to create their path to unlock their potential and move forward, there are several tools I use to increase the probability that the goals they are creating are met.
The Well Formed Outcome NLP Coaching Technique goes beyond “setting goals”. The metaphor of a goal suggests a destination and a conscious process. Outcomes set a direction. I may have an outcome to have a healthy and balanced life. I may not ever reach this as a “goal”, but as an outcome, it helps organizes my choices around what I say yes to and what I say no to without conscious thought.
The Coaching Process
Well formed outcomes are stated in the positive. It is often difficult to know what we actually want. Bad experiences can loom so large all we can think of is what we don’t want. Self initiated and maintained. Well formed outcomes must be what you want rather than what other people want to be congruent and motivating. An outcome that involves pleasing other people is very difficult to maintain. It is also indirect. Other people’s outcomes can often trigger an unconscious rebellious response resulting in internal conflict. Successful outcomes involve things over which we have control.
For what purpose do you want this outcome? So why do you want the outcome? What is it going to give you? Who will you become in the process of moving towards it on a daily basis? We can sometimes confuse ends with means and sabotage our real outcome.
Well formed outcomes are sensory based. What will you see, hear and feel when you achieve the outcome? Act as if you already have the outcome in this moment and associate into the experience of having it. This gives your brain a great deal of concrete information. We need to represent our outcomes as processes. State it in see, hear, and feel terms. What does it mean to you? For example your outcome could be, “I want to be more confident in my new leadership position, I am making eye contact with my team, I feel centered and seek opportunities to connect and learn and grow in my role. I hear myself speaking in a confident slow-paced voice and listening carefully to the other person.”
Well formed outcomes are sequenced and bite sized. Outcomes can be overwhelming big chunks like writing a book. Framing in big chunks can make us feel impotent – it seems like such a lot of time, effort and sacrifice to do what it takes to make it happen. Taking small actions everyday builds momentum and increases motivation. Being able to make a movie of what you will do in present time sets up a template. Mental rehearsal is an effective way to get things done.
What resources do you need? Sometimes we don’t get our outcomes because we don’t have the resources we need. We jump ahead of ourselves without considering if we are in a position to go for it right now. What are the important sub goals we need to obtain first? Do you require outside help? Going back to the example I want to write a book, and need to create time in my schedule. Sometimes these can become excuses. I can’t get X because I don’t have Y. Often the resources are available and can be organized, particularly personal resources. What empowering emotional states and beliefs would help you achieve your outcome easily and quickly? For instance, I want to write two pages today. Useful emotional states are focused, enthusiastic, being in the flow. I might gain these by breaking the task into small pieces, mental rehearsal, being clear about my purpose, and remembering a focused state.
In what contexts do you want the outcome? When, where and with whom do you want this outcome? Well formed outcomes are situation specific. Failing to set a boundary can result in over generalization. It may not be useful to be focused or relaxed every day in every circumstance. You may need to push yourself and your team forward to meet certain deadlines. Marking a specific context for a particular behavior anchors the response.
What is your evidence for fulfillment? Specific measurable sensory outcomes have more power to directionalize our brain. How will you know when you have achieved the outcome? Everyone’s evidence will be different. My evidence for a productive day is not going to be the same as yours. People often have outcomes like “I want to be successful in my leadership role” What does success mean? How can I measure this outcome? By how my team responds? In financial terms? Promotions in a certain time? Outcomes represented in vague terms give our brains vague directions. What does confidence look like? What does success mean? How will I know when I have it?
Well formed outcomes are compelling. Compelling goals are more motivating. Have you ever watched a movie that was so slow, dull and dreary you couldn’t be bothered? How can you represent your outcomes so they compel you? What do you personally find motivating? Brighten up the colors, amp up the soundtrack, make the pace faster and hear the excitement in people’s voices. Is it more motivating to see yourself in the movie (dissociated) or be as if you were actually there (associated)? Being there in the state can sometimes create indifference because in our imagination we already have what we want.
Well formed outcomes are ecological. We can’t separate our outcomes from the rest of our lives. We have other priorities and important values. Our outcomes may affect other people. Does it fit with who we are as a person, how we see ourselves? It is important that outcomes add to our choices rather than take them away. In what ways might this outcome not be good for us? Are there any contexts where having this outcome would not work?
It is a joy to work with leaders as they establish goals and realize successes. At the Academy of Leadership Coaching & NLP (ALCN), we work with both individuals and organizations to create pathways to realize their goals. We are honored to be a small part of their journey as they work through the plan we have developed to overcome obstacles and move towards a new and exciting reality. Perhaps you or your team is considering a new direction in the coming year or you are interested in learning NLP and coaching techniques to support you in your leadership role. Contact the team at ALCN to develop a plan and utilize tools to reach the next step in your leadership journey.