Well Defined Outcomes

Well-defined Outcomes


“What do you really want?”

If you know the model of “ BE-DO-HAVE” (over HAVE-DO-BE), you know that you first become the kind of person that’s able to achieve your desired outcome, and then you do the actions that are congruent with that kind of person.  In the recovery world, this is why those who succeed often follow the “fake it until you make it” approach. Folks seeking recovery are also working through a new set of values and ways of ‘being’ in the world. This is one of the pillars of the Twelve step traditions, to support being in honesty, integrity, and humility, among the principles of the tradition.

Aligning your values to your goals supports achieving them. But the key to achieving your goals is to define them, specifically.  

You need to define them in a way that’s believable and achievable. When you line up your values, mind, body, and emotions in the same direction, you can make great things happen.   It’s a powerful recipe for results.  This means thinking, feeling, and acting in consistent ways that match what you want to achieve.

In sum, the secret to achieving is to start thinking about the outcome as if you have achieved it already!

Then think how you can improve the outcome. This means that even before you have achieved your outcome you are already improving it!

Before investing resources, you are finding the difficulties that would get in the way of achieving your outcome, and removing those obstacles.

 Your desires, values and your needs are aligned with your outcome. Check this pattern on setting better goals:

Step #1. Create a Positive, Specific Goal.
Step #2. State Your Outcome in Terms of Ability, Not Lack of Ability.
Step #3. Define the Context in which you will Achieve the Goal.
Step #4. Imagine how your Goal will Feel like, what it will Look like, what you will be Thinking when you achieve it, what others will see, feel, and think about it.
Step #5. Define your Objectives.
Step #6. Know what Support you will Need.
Step #7. Perform an Ecology Check; review anything and everything that does not align with that outcome.
Step #8. Create Your Milestones.
Step #9. Write Down Your Goals.
Step #10.  Test.

Step #1. Create a Positive, Specific Goal.

Start with the end in mind.   What’s your vision or desired outcome that you want to experience?  Make it specific and state it in positive terms.  What would the goal look like or what’s the scene that you see play in your mind’s eye?  Focus on what you do want, in specific, positive terms. Take your time to describe your goal. Here is why: a negative goal does not take you in any direction. It is like saying “I do not want to go to there.” It begs the question “where then?” The brain is excellent at following instructions, once it has those instructions in a clear, unambiguous manner. Beware: If you say “I do not want to go to the market” the image that you conjure up is you going to the market, because the brain needs to create the image of you going to the market first, and then say “no” to going to the market. This applies to every negative frame you tell yourself, such as “I don’t want to be like my father,” or “I don’t want to drink.” But if you tell yourself “I will be honest and tell the truth,” or “today I will be sober and do the next right thing,” you are letting your brain know in clear non-ambiguous manner what it is that you will be or do. To this you can add a complete experience of what it feels like to be sober, what it looks like to be sober, what you tell yourself when you are sober and what other people see, feel, and think when you show yourself sober. Imagine doing that!

Step #2. State Your Outcome in Terms of Ability, Not Lack of Ability.

Focus on what you control, rather than making your goals depend on other people.  Don’t give your power away.  You give your power away when you depend on other people. Instead consider stating what you will do to get the support from other people, and what exactly that support will be. “By the end of next month I will have developed an approach of being and doing that will get a very positive response from people on this goal. I will continue to improve that approach until it becomes effective.” This way, the support you obtain is based on your actions, and you are responsible for achieving this. So the question is what you need to do to make this happen, what actions you need to take that will increase your chances to achieve this goal.

Step #3. Context.

When you describe your outcome, be specific in terms of the context.  Where do you want this to happen?   When do you want this to happen?  Who do you want this to happen with? You are striving for specificity and for giving your brain the most specific picture you can conjure. This increases the motivation, but also, continues to make sure that there are no ambiguities, or what is also called achieving an ecological goal. If your goal is sobriety, then establish all the contexts in which you will maintain sobriety, who is there, and expand the time frame for all your waking hours. Make it real to your brain.

Step #4. Sense Modalities.

Bring your goal or desired outcome to life by adding all your senses to the picture (see it, hear it, feel it, taste it, smell it; what will you think about it; what will other people see, hear, feel, think about it).   This will help you bring it to mind much more vividly and you will actually feel what it would be like to achieve your goal.  This will help inspire you and get your subconscious on your side. Use your senses as much as you possibly can to continue making it real to your brain. Particularly, make sure you use the most important senses to you. If smell is important to you, amplify the sense of smell. How will it smell when you are sober? What will other people smell when you are sober? What does it feel, how does it feel to you to be sober? To other people? What expression do you see in people’s faces when you are sober? What do they tell you? Experience in the moment having achieved the goal: how does it feel in your body? This practice adds tremendous motivation to your goal.

Step #5.  Objectives.

Chunk your goal down into little steps.   This makes your goal more actionable, more believable, more achievable, and easier to accomplish.  This will also help you build momentum. Break it to the smallest first increment: “what is the smallest step I can take?” “what is the smallest change I can make to start making this happen?” Once achieved, ask what is the next smallest change you can achieve and continue going that way, in small change increments. This ensures that there are no ‘corrections’ done. This means that big changes may feel uncomfortable and the brain returns to the state before the big change. But the brain will accept small increments without making corrections. We feel differently if we tell ourselves that in the next two weeks we are going to lose one pound rather than 60 in the next 12 months. This is also called “chunking.” Effective writers think about writing a page a day or 500 words a day, rather than thinking about the whole book endeavor. How do you eat an elephant? One piece at a time.

Step #6. Support.

Identify the support you need and how you’ll get it.  Be specific. What resources do you need? Where are they? Who are they? Make a list of all the resources you will need in order to achieve your goal. If it is people, groups, or agencies then state what their names are, how you reach them, what frame of mind you will need when you contact them, what is the best time of day to do so, what emotions you will need to develop in order to connect with them, will you need to be more assertive or develop more confidence, or be less bothered by circumstances; will you need money to do so, will you need to know certain information before you contact them? Ask yourself what else will you need in term of resources to reach your goal?

Step #7. Perform an Ecology Check

Do you really want to achieve this goal?   Are you having doubts?  Are you experiencing internal tugs in another direction?  Are there any conflicts you need to resolve?  Figure out if anything is holding you back. Typically, addicts have two people inside them, the addict and the person who wants to get clean. This step needs to be performed routinely for someone who is striving for sobriety, because the addict inside tends to sabotage efforts towards sobriety, generally because the changes have been too big rather than in small chunks. Ask primarily what are the values, goals, or people that are interfering with you achieving your goal. How can you mitigate this? How can you accommodate these needs to your goal? Are there any internal obstacles interfering with your goal?

Step #8. Create Your Milestones.

Break your goal down into milestones.  Add the milestones to your calendar. Determine how it is that you will know that you are progressing, in the right direction of your goal, and at the right pace (chunking!). You need to know the signs of progress; what you will be feeling, seeing, sensing; what others will be seeing, saying, thinking about you. Utilize your resources. Set a timeline for your resources in your calendar when you will be checking your milestones. Use a checklist. Mark your progress! State exactly what you will want to have achieved by those dates. This gives you a way to see and sense progress as you, and to help you stay on track. Vagueness about milestones is a warning sign. Staying sober may have a simple milestone of having changed the store you shop at, or the route you take for work. It may also include adding an exercise routine or changing your friends. These all deserve chunking and milestones.

Step #9. Write Down Your Goals.

What is worse, to see your name on the ‘most wanted’ list or to hear about it? The written word is powerful. Have a notebook and develop the habit of writing down your goals, objectives, chunking, and milestones. Have different sections for them. You will continue to add to the motivation and reinforce achievement. It also helps you reflect on your goals and check how things are going, and problem solve and innovate if you need to.  It also helps keep you from swirling things around in your mind. You may have stray thoughts about how to continue to improve your plan that may prove golden! Unwritten goals aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

Step 10:  Test.

This is where the rubber meets the road.  Take action and test your results.  Pay attention to your results.  Your results are your feedback.  Use your feedback to improve. You do this by monitoring your progress, particularly with your chunking progress. Seeing your progress is the greatest motivator you can have. Reflect on your progress on your notebook. Notice the ways in which you make progress, what works and what needs improvement, what is easy and what takes more effort. Use what works to achieve more chunking, more objectives. Become super conscious of your successes. Recommit to achieving your goals. Continue to do ecological checks; what can get in the way! Make the obstacles obvious so you can break them down and handle them.

Make your goal compelling . Keep note of the greater purpose and meaning of your goal. What are the benefits of achieving your goal? See yourself succeeding and what your life will look like, feel like, sound like when you achieve your goal. See what others will say, think, feel, and reflect back to you when you achieve the goals. Who else will benefit from you achieving your goal? What will you have accomplished when you achieve your goal? How will you regain power when you achieve your goal? What will you have gained when you achieve your goal?

Think ahead of ways in which you will reward yourself and your loved ones once you achieve your goal.

Remember that goal achievement may not be a straight line. Two steps forward and one backward tends to be a normal pattern of progress. Keep taking action towards your goal. Review the above steps for things you may be overlooking or missing. Keep notes on your journal of your progress and above all, keep the intention of achieving your goal in your mind at all times . If you fall know that you can learn from each fall where the tumbling block was to avoid it in the future. Pretty soon the whole road will be cleared! Remind yourself that there is no failure, only feedback.