Designing NLP Smart Goals

Most people who have spent time in the corporate world will have heard of the SMART goals acronym.

With this model goals had to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. There is nothing wrong without this framework and in fact it is a very good basis for goal setting but it can be improved. Neuro Linguistic Programming however will give this a turbo boost by adding in sensory specific information which will help you to modify your behaviour or find help in the form of additional resources.

If you want SMART goals that are even smarter then you need to work out what you want by using the well informed outcome process. NLP uses all your senses to design a SMART goal.
You will need to answer a series of questions which will allow you to understand your true motivations for wanting to achieve your goals and so that you can weigh up the pros and cons of success versus failure.

To begin let’s look at an example. Say your desired outcome is you want to have a better paid job. Firstly is the goal stated in the positive? Is the goal self-initiated and within my control? Does the goal clearly describe when we will have achieved our goal? Is the context of the goal defined? Does the goal identify the necessary resources? Have I evaluated whether the goal is ecological? Does the goal identify the first step I need to take?

Now examine these questions in greater depth

Is the goal stated in the positive?

You must know clearly what your desired outcome is because you will need to maintain focus on that direction in order to achieve it. If you choose a vague goal like “I want to be healthier” or “I want to be richer” these goals will be too easy to be satisfied. If you go for a walk then you are healthier than if you didn’t and so your subconscious could be that the goal has been accomplished. Or if you find a $10 note then you are wealthier. However you are unlikely to be totally satisfied with either of these outcomes. Instead you need to be more specific such as “I want to have $100,000 by August 1st 2013” This is a measureable goal written in the positive form.The problem with putting goals in the negative form can be disempowering. And remember your subconscious mind reads all statements that you feed it as being positive. So if you state “I don’t want to be fat” your subconscious mind hears “I want to be fat”.

Is the goal self-initiated, maintained and within my control

If you want to achieve your outcome then it has to come from you. This means is the goal something that you want to achieve. A student might feel that her parents want her to enter law school. But when she comes to sit the entrance exam she fails miserably. The reason can be found in the fact that it wasn’t ever her goal to enter law school. Also is the goal in your control. A goal like “I want to be a millionaire” is not a bad goal but a better one might be a more specific goal that you can definitely control. For example work out how many sales calls you would have to make in order for you to achieve that specific financial goal.

Does the goal describe the evidence procedure

This could also be described as how will you know if you have achieved your goal. Again this is why goals must be specific. You are unlikely to achieve a goal if you are not even sure whether it has been achieved or not. For example if you have a goal to make 100 sales calls a day it is clear whether or not I have achieved that target because I can simply count the number of sales calls I made within the defined time period.

Is the context of the goal clearly defined

Identify where, when, how and with whom do you want to achieve your goal.

Does the goal identify the necessary resources

What resources do you currently have? What resources do you need to acquire? Have you got any evidence of achieving this type of goal before? If you are currently lacking some of the resources that you believe you will need consider acting liking you already have all the resources you require.

Evaluate whether the goal is ecological

A goal being ecological means that the outcome fits in with all aspects of your life. If the outcome conflicts with another outcome or belief that you hold you will find it hard to achieve.

Does the goal identify the first step you need to take?

Remember that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Change often comes through not a huge breakthrough but through cumulative action. You must identify that first step you will take no matter how small it is.

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