You may have already considered what you want to accomplish this year and have set yourself some New Years resolutions. Perhaps your plan is to lose weight or to give up smoking, maybe you are unhappy in your current job and have considered that this is the year that you are going to make a change.

Goal setting functions as a prerequisite to success in most areas of life. Yet sadly most people do not have clear and measurable goals to work towards. Failing to meet your goals can leave you discouraged and frustrated. Statistics show that people who write their goals down clearly on paper have over an 80% higher success rate of achieving them.

“Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines” Brian Tracy

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The following provides a simple proforma for achieving those desired goals using Neuro Linguistic Programming, here’s how it works;

(NLP) looks at how the brain processes information (Neuro), The way we communicate (Linguistics), and how our behaviour patterns (Programming) all interact.

“The brain works primarily from our sensory system (images, sounds, feelings). The NLP goal setting model addresses this by making our goal sensory specific. But it doesn’t stop there. For, the brain not only uses the sensory system, it also uses our word meanings that drive the sensory system. For this reason, the NLP Goal Setting Model makes absolutely sure that we language ourselves in such a way as to drive our very neurology and physiology towards obtaining our desired goal” (Bodenhamer 2010).

The specificity of the NLP Goal Setting Model facilitates concentration on what you internally see, hear, and feel. Your attention will direct itself toward external and internal resources necessary in achieving the goal.  The NLP model provides the following features as a way to more clearly thinking about moving from a present state to a desired state.

Try this exercise!

  • What do you want specifically? (This must be what you do want – rather that what you do not want. In other words it must be stated in the positive). What motivates a lot of us to change is not the attraction of the outcome but the discomfort of the current state of affairs! The difficulty with this is that the more you focus on what you do not want the more fixated you become on it. For example If your goal is “I don’t want to remain fat” you will continually be thinking of yourself as being fat rather than focussing your attention on a slimmer, healthier and happier ‘you’.
  1. Run a Quality Control check on your Goal to make sure it is for you in all areas of your life. Your goal must be something that you can initiate and maintain.  It must not be something dependent on other people.  Make sure that your goal reflects things that you can directly affect.

Ask yourself:

Is the desired goal right for you in all circumstances of your life?

Is your goal appropriate in all your personal relationships?

What will having your goal give you that you do not now have?

Is your goal achievablable?

  1. What do you get to have or keep by not attaining this goal? Ask yourself, “Are there obstacles to actualizing this desired goal?”  Identify potential barriers and take action to reduce or eliminate them. Becoming aware of where we are stuck can enable us to move around the obstacle, take a different route or simply eliminate it completely so that we can move forward on our journey towards our desired state.
  2. Know when, where & with whom you want your goal.  Test  your goal by applying it to a context to make sure that it is going to be fitting and appropriate.  Readjust your goal to make sure that it fits. It’s useful to also specify where you want to have this outcome and where you don’t want to have it. For example, feeling calmer in a particular situation would specify where you want to have this. On the other hand you may want to be calm in all situations in which case simply state that. However let’s say, for example, that your goal is to be more assertive. You may want to be more assertive in some situations and not in others.
  3. What internal resources or skills do you have or need to accomplish your goal?
  4. What will you look like, sound like when you achieve your goal? Take time to clearly visualise yourself. Imagine sitting watching yourself on a movie screen having achieved your goal. What will you see, hear, feel, smell and taste when you have it? Engage all your senses! Float into that image and experience what the new you feels like.
  5. Ask yourself “What will happen when I get it?”, ie when I lose weight I will feel fitter & have more energy. I will look drop dead gorgeous in that dress!
  6. Ask yourself “What won’t happen when I get it?” , ie I won’t be as self-critical & self conscious about how I look & feel around others socially.
  7. Ask yourself “ What will happen if I don’t get it?”  , ie I will stay as I am, in the same situation, feeling the same…
  8. How will you know when you have it? Have a way of knowing when you have achieved it! This is the ‘evidence’ step. You must have a clear picture of yourself having achieved this objective. This gives your brain and, in particular, your Reticular Activating System, a target to home in on.


“Goals.There’s no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There’s no telling what you can do when you believe in them. There’s no telling what will happen when you act upon them.’ Jim Rohn

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