One of the biggest issues facing anyone when they think about changing any part of their life is “What do I Want?”. It is usually easier for someone to elucidate what they DON’T want rather than concisely state what they DO want. Since it is a presupposition that we get what we focus on, the more we focus on what we don’t want the more likely we are to get it.
The well formed outcome is specifically designed to get you to think about what you do want in a general way that you can actually do something about, rather than just wishful thinking.
There are a huge number of publications that talk about Goals and goal setting but there is a fundamental difference between a Goal and and Outcome. A goal is usually a single defined result with tasks that lead to it; for example Earning $1million per year is a goal, there are specific steps that you can take to get you there, it is somewhat inflexible and constrained, there is a success or failure factor to it.
Goals usually form part of an Outcome but are not the whole picture as they rarely take in the emotional components to ones life.
Define Your Outcome in Positive Language
Perhaps the single most important concept for defining a well formed outcome is that of stating it in the positive. “I don’t want any debts” is not the same as “I want to be debt free”, “I want to stop smoking” is different from “I want to be a non-smoker”.
Using a negative or “Not” Frame will have a tendency to create a negative from a percieved positive. The mind doesn’t understand a negative and will focus on the object, if someone says “don’t think of a yellow football”, your mind will have to generate the image before it discards it, setting a goal to “not” be something creates the want first and then tries to destroy it.
Define the Context
This is the When and Where of a goal or outcome. If your goal is to be better at selling, this is likely to be in a work context and not something that you would want when playing with your children.
Adding context to an outcome will increase the ‘reality’ of the accomplishment. If you want x amount of money, by when will you have it, where will it come from, how will you achieve it. If your goal is about the family, how will that manifest itself, when will it happen and with whom.
Context is about detail, the greater the detail the more compelling to the mind the objective will be.
Using All the Senses
How will you know when you have achieved your outcome? What will it look like? How will it feel? What will you hear? What will you say to yourself?
When we set goals our approach is often to detail a result, the end of a problem. The well formed outcome takes that further and includes how you will represent the achievement to yourself. If your outcome were to be a great public speaker what would it feel like? How would you know? What would you say to yourself.
The sensory component of the well formed outcome is about the creation of a future version of you who has already achieved your goal and knowing how it is going to be internally. It is an answer to the question “How will you know?”.
Achievable by YOU
The achievability aspect of the well formed outcome is about YOUR capability to achieve it; it must be an outcome over which you have control, there may be parts where you need the help of someone else but overall it must be within your control. A goal of “I want my boss to give me a raise” isn’t within your control, you can work harder, you can become invaluable, you can suck up to your boss, but none of those actions can make your boss give you a raise, it isn’t achievable.
Well formed outcomes require a commitment from you as to their success, if they rely on the power of a ‘reality distortion field’ or mind control of other people then they aren’t well formed and are more likely to be wish fulfilment, in which case you’re better off with Magic rather than NLP.
For a goal to be a well formed outcome requires for it to be ecologically sound, which is a fancy way of saying that it needs to fit in with everything else in your life. If you have a goal of running a marathon which requires hours of training and proper nutrition but you are a single parent with a young baby it may not be ecologically sound as you realise your family time will have to take second place behind your training.
Many objectives fail the ecology check because little or no thought goes in to the interconnectedness of our lives. A person who wants to lose weight may find that they fail through ecological reasons without even realising it, being overweight may give them safety or security.
Being ecologically sound means making your outcome fit in with the rest of your life and taking in to account any secondary gains that may be involved.
Some Other Thoughts About Outcomes
Success with outcomes and goal setting requires more than just ticking a few boxes to ensure that you meet some criteria, to be successful requires commitment and action. Creating a Well Formed Outcome is just part of the whole process and there is just as much to do after you’ve created your outcome.
Action always speaks louder than words and it is what you do after you create your outcome that makes the difference.