NLP Newsletter Goal SettingGoal Strategy

Woke up at 5am this morning. Do you have any idea how quiet the world is at 5am? I got a lot of work done before the first of my many children started waking around 6am. I recommend you try this to see what you can achieve in an extra hour.

Which leads us back to achievement and goal setting from last week’s conversation.

Mr. Robert Dilts has proposed six strategies for defining goals. Let’s look at them and see which feels most comfortable for you in your own goal setting.

Goal Strategy 1

Express your goal in relation to a present problem. If the idea of speaking in public makes your stomach churn, you’d state your goal as, “I want to stop being afraid to talking in front of a group.”

This is a good starting point, but we can’t stop here, because this is a statement of what you don’t want. It’s not a real goal.

Goal Strategy 2

Find the polar opposite of the problem, and state your goal in those terms.

“I want to be confident while speaking in front of a group.”

This is much better, in that it focuses on what you want. The danger is that it likely creates an inner conflict.

Goal Strategy 3

Set your goal using an external reference, or model.

“I want to talk to a group like Martin Luther King would.”

This gives concrete references. But until such time as you’ve mastered Dr. King’s oratorical skills it can give you an exceptionally high standard of comparison, and can lead to inappropriate expectations.

Goal Strategy 4

Define the key characteristics of the goal you set.

“I want to embody the qualities of mastery when I’m talking to a group.”

This is positive goal setting, but can be more challenging intellectually. How does one deal with abstract principles such as flexibility or integrity?

Goal Strategy 5

Define the outcome.
“I want to be more balanced and creative when speaking in public.”

This is a great step from Strategy 4. It builds on the key characteristics. It also presupposes you can identify when you’re being creative and balanced.

Goal Strategy 6

Act as if you’ve reached the desired state.

“I am relaxed and comfortable in front of people.

Each of these strategies has limitations, but each offers advantages over the others. And, frankly, some great goal setting techniques involve combinations of different strategies.

What goal setting strategies have worked for you? Leave your comments below, will you?

Until next week,

John “Goal Strategies” Cassidy-Rice

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  1. charles peirce says:

    I tend use all of these strategies, plus one other. In nearly the order that Mr. Robert Dilts has listed them, I will consider that strategy, and use it if it if it seems likely that it is all I need to surmount the problem. My anxiety level after thinking through the strategy is a good indicator for how confident I am that I have found a productive path to follow.

    I have one strategy which has so many potential pitfalls that I only turn to it when the more tried and tested don’t seem to be working.

    I image that I am in some future time, when I have just successfully achieved my goal, and demonstrated that achievement. I imagine that a close friend, someone with whom I am totally honest and open, has asked me “Well, how did you do it in the end?” As I imagine my reply, the things that would never work for me will sound false and filter out, until what I have left is a creditable goal, and as a bonus a path to achieving the goal.

    To the speech giving scenario, it might go like this:
    ” Well I got together all the information that I could, and made sure that I had all the facts and figures in front of me, because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to remember them all when under stress. I made sure that I looked presentable on the day. An hour before the meeting I made sure to empty my bladder and turn off my phone so that I wouldn’t have any distractions. Then when it was my turn to speak, I made myself feel ten seconds of courage, enough to get out the first sentence, the one where I told them what I was going to talk about. Then, to my surprise, they listened politely, and the questions they asked helped me to get my points across and fill in the bits I would have forgotten to say. Then it was over and they applauded.”

    My goals from this are: a) Get all the useful information written down. b) Buy a suit. c) Get in touch with my body through frequent practice so that I can anticipate its needs when I most need to. d) Become used to speaking when I would rather be quite, even though it doesn’t feel comfortable.

    Suddenly a huge achievement has broken down to a manageable list of small things.

    Loving the podcast series.

  2. Richard J Peak says:

    I still love the insight you shared on our first course of how to get started on something perceived as difficult. The phrase “If something is worth doing, its worth doing it badly (at first).”

    Changing my goal from, “I want to achieve something big” to “Lets start doing something and see what happens” has given me freedom to start, build momentum and not worry about the outcome on several subjects.

    So what has this helped me learn? Starting can be hard, so find the smallest achievable baby step possible and just do it without caring if it fails or succeeds. Because doing something new is to learn something new. Then having completed, succeeded or failed, review what happened, celebrate any small success and get feedback from people you trust and feel safe working with. This rapid feedback loop will pay large dividends on a relatively small investment of time and effort.

    1. Hi Richard, Thank you for sharing your insights. I think it makes a difference when we share how we’ve put ideas into practice.

  3. I used to get up regularly about an hour before I needed to. My big break through came when, for various reasons I couldn’t. Bingo. I’ve been less tired, more enthusiastic and so on since. It does help to have peace and quiet, I remember when my children were young. Now I value sleep more. Life changes I guess.

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