“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where -” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat
Working with clients we often find the question – what do you really want? – can be one of the hardest to answer. It’s not uncommon for people to respond to that question by describing what they don’t want. That’s fine; sometimes we help to refine what we want by being clear on what we don’t want.
The problem with this common approach is that it keeps us in the “problem state.” The problem state is essentially the place we want to get away from, and as such, it carries with it all the emotional, physiological and mental “stuff” that burdens us.
There’s a model that we use that can be helpful to get closer to understanding what it is we REALLY do want in certain situations. It’s a useful process because it helps get at the kind of details and specificity that can make a big difference in our course of action –and how we use our energy to get there. Doing this process, also helps to reveal more about how your mindset actually works – especially in pursuit of moving towards what you want. Essentially, we are either moving towards something or moving away from it. Even the words you use to describe your experience have a moving towards or moving away quality to them.
Moving away thinking “I don’t want to work so far from my home any more,” has a past orientation. It places your mindset in the “I don’t want to be here or do this” mode – not a very resourceful state. The emotions typically associated with moving away thinking – impatience, frustration, annoyance, resignation can keep us anchored in apathy and procrastination. When we get into those types of negative internal states, we can literally re-trigger ourselves emotionally – deepening our feeling of “stuckness.” On the other hand, moving towards thinking can have a completely different energetic feel. We start thinking new, fresh, opportunity, possibility feelings – optimism, enthusiasm, curiosity and confidence to name a few.
Asking yourself the question – what is it that I really want? – gets you closer to deeper levels of motivation – your emotions and your needs. Behind everything we do – is a need. The more we know and understand the needs that drive us – the better able we are to satisfy them
Beyond Goal Setting
Planning and goal setting can be positive things to do (they can also set us up in a trap of self-sabotage). The question is how we do it.
One reason so many of our goals don’t come to fruition is because we have stated them far too ambiguously at the onset. Another reason is that we don’t plan the incremental steps necessary to take actions in doable behaviors. We bite off, far more, than we can chew. To achieve our goals and realize our outcomes, we need to harness and mobilize our resources – internal and external – to succeed.
We’ve used versions of the following model personally and with many clients working on a range of issues. The process of this model evolves throughout the series of steps, accumulating knowledge and experience as a result. But you can also use many of the steps individually to highlight a particular area you may want to develop.
For example – Step #2 – How Much Control or Influence Do I Have? – is a powerful stand-alone question, applicable to many situations. It is also common for people to go through this process and discover that they must refine Step #1. This is a good thing. The more specificity you bring to Step #1 – the better the process works.
Too many of us stay stuck in unproductive circumstances, relationships and emotional patterns because we do not have a clear assessment of our real control in a situation.
Many of the conflicts (internal and external) that people have, especially in the workplace, are mired in the erroneous belief that through will or wit they can change events and people around them to suit their outcomes.
The 9 Step Outcome Model
You can apply this process to anything you would like to change, develop or achieve. Keep in mind – it is a process, not a magic formula. Like all change or developmental processes, it takes time, patience and consistency. We find it really helps to write down your responses.
Identifying, planning and implementing the behavioral (mental and emotional) steps to achieving our goals is referred to in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) as a well-formed outcome. When you engage this process you will begin to experience multiple benefits as a result:
So – what are you waiting for? Grab a pen (writing longhand accesses different channels of info in your brain than typing) and get started.
Let’s see what was that first question? What is it that you REALLY want?
Thanks for reading,
Louise Altman, Intentional Communication Consultants
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