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How To Set Your Objectives And Reach Them
What do you mean with objective?
Ok, so basically, if you are reading this line it means that somehow you give at least a minimum of importance in objectives setting in your life. But when you say I want to set an objective, what’s your intention exactly? What do you expect from yourself to accomplish? You may have a clear idea of what you want to do, but just need to identify and establish the steps to do it. But you may also not know what you want or you may just want a change and not sure exactly how to make it. Using the NLP technique of Objective Setting or Clarification, we are going to examine both these cases to clarify your way from intention to action.
When you don’t know what you want
In general, you know what you don’t want, or you just expect a change in your life but not sure what exactly. You may hear yourself saying “I don’t like my job” or “I want to be rich” or even “I want to be happy” or “I’m feeling bad, I hate my life”.
First, ask yourself “What do I really want? What do I enjoy doing? What motivates me the most? What are my ambitions, my hobbies?”. Whatever maybe the answer just note it down. Don’t worry if it seems something that you can’t really afford or something that seems non rational or immoral. Just write down what you feel yourself that you want to do or to be. It’s very important that your Objective must be something you say affirmatively. Think of what you WANT and NOT of what you DON’T WANT. And handwrite it down. Handwriting has much psychological impact. If you are not able to find what you really want, start by imagining yourself in a very pleasant situation, a situation that your really enjoy, where you feel yourself very positive, doing something you like. Try to figure out what is the spatial and temporal context of that situation, and the people involved on it. Do not hesitate to live that situation, either by closing your eyes and relaxing, or by standing up and moving around. Whatever gets you closer to that pleasant situation, do it! Then ask yourself “Why am I not currently living that situation factually? What about setting the objective of doing it?”
When you know what you want
Let’s say now that you know exactly what you want. For example, “I want to buy a new house”, “I want to write a novel”, “I want to go to Paris”,… However, it looks for you as if the path to go through to reach that objective is not clear enough, or else you would have already done it. So somehow you need a kind of guide or a map with indications to find your way…
Say it affirmatively:
Again, it’s very important to stress on the fact that your objective needs to be formulated affirmatively to get reached. For example, if I say simply “I don’t want to stay at home”, OK, I know that I have to go out from home, but saying it like that doesn’t help to know where I really want to go. I guess you understand that there is a big difference between wanting to go to a night club and wanting to go to relax in the beach, even if in both cases I actually left home! Before you continue, handwrite your objective down in a paper.
Does it depend on you?
When you are about to set an objective, you can’t really start walking through the process of realizing it if you depend on someone else to do it, or if you depend on some event or context or situation over which you don’t have any power. For example, if you say “I want to get married”, you clearly need to have a partner for that. And you can’t compel or oblige a person to get married with you. But still, you can look for the right person, approach her, be pleasant, etc. Another example if you say “I want to get a job”, here also, you can’t oblige a company to hire you, but you can maximize your chances to get hired by improving your skills. In this kind of situation, if the response to the question “Does it depend on me?” is a “No”, then ask your self “What depends on me?” and adapt your objective formulation to fit on what depends on you.
When? Where? With whom? How?
Now, if not yet done, define the spatial and temporal context of your objective. When do you want to realize it? Where? With whom (this doesn’t mean that the whom is a person you depend on)? For example, your objective is to travel abroad. Where do you want to go? To how many places? When? Next week, next month, next year? By what mean? By car, flight, boat, bike? Alone or with someone? Put your objective as clear as possible in a well define context. Don’t forget that it has to be handwritten!
Can you afford it?
This is a very important question. If your objective is something you can’t afford financially and that its realization has some importance for you that you really want to realize it, then maybe start by fixing the objective of getting the money needed. Don’t throw away what you have already written, keep it preciously. But now, start again this whole work through having your new financial objective in mind and write down again every possible detail that you can provide answering the above questions.
Let’s talk about ecology:
In NLP’s objective setting, ecology has no relation with being nature friendly. Here we are focusing on the ecology of your objective on you and on your surrounding. The idea is to find out the positive function of your actual state so that you can understand why you did not change and move from that state. You need to be sure that realizing your objective has no drawback, or at least that you are aware of its drawbacks, if any, and that you can handle them. We are going to talk about three types of ecology: the actual state, the desired state and internal/external ecology.
– Ecology of the actual state:
In the actual state, if you did not yet succeed to change something that you don’t want anymore, or if you can’t get something that you really want, you have to check if there is nothing in the actual state, some advantages, that you think, consciously or unconsciously, you won’t be able to keep only if you stay in your actual state. The change would cause you then the loss of something important.
For example, in your actual state, you don’t like your job, but you are not able to quit. The question is “What does compel you to stay? What is good in keeping this job? What are you fearing if you leave it?”. The answer may be “My current job guarantees to me stability and security, and I know I’m very well skilled in my actual job”. If you are facing this kind of situation, then ask yourself “Toward that, what do I want?” This leads us back to the point of not knowing what you want, so again, go through all this steps, without forgetting to take note of every new information that comes to your mind.
– Ecology of the desired state:
Here, we have two levels of ecology to check: the ecology of the result and the ecology of the means. You may consider that the effects and consequences, if you reach your objective, will have more damages than the actual situation, either for yourself or for your environment. So then you need to reformulate your objective by taking into account the positive side of your actual state. For that, ask yourself the question “Will it be any disadvantage if I reach my objective?” if the answer is no, then ask yourself “If there was one, what would it be?”.
Consciously or unconsciously, you may suppose also that the means you are using to reach your objective includes some risks that are not “ecologic” either for you or for your environment. That is the question you need to ask yourself when you find no disadvantages to reach your objective (if there was really no problem at any level, you would have had already reached it!). So ask yourself “What means am I willing to use to reach my objective?” then “What are the drawbacks of these means?”.
– Internal/External ecology:
The internal ecology refers to the inconvenience (of the objective or the means) that only concerns you as a person, this ecology is generally well understood. However, external ecology is sometimes misunderstood. After searching for the best solution, the one that will make everyone happy, you realize that some of the objectives that you are targeting may displease. This is sometimes inevitable, and you have to keep in mind that ecology doesn’t consist on abandoning every objective that doesn’t make the unanimity, like we say it so wisely, one can’t please everybody. If you are conscious of what you may provoke and assume eventual negative reactions of others, then ecology is respected.
When do you know that you reached your objective?
You may think that this question is quite stupid. You would say I have an objective in mind, so when I’ll reach it, I know I’m there. Are you sure? Let us again take another example, nothing better than an example to illustrate these concepts. Let us say you want to find a job. You have clearly in mind what kind of job you want. You got hired. But then, well, the salary is not really what you were expecting, or the working environment is not so pleasant, or your colleagues are not so nice with you. Finally, you know what, it’s not that kind of job that I was looking for I want something with a better salary, better this, better that,… But, why didn’t you think about all these points before accepting the offer? Isn’t it part of your objective to that the environment will be nice, that you’ll have sympathetic colleagues, and etc. Yes, well this is maybe was obvious so this is why you didn’t think about it. But that you are there, it looks like something you have thought about before. This is why, before going further, ask yourself this simple question “When do I know I reached my objective”. Just describe the final situation that you want, what does it look like, what are the parameters that have to be verified so that you can say it out loud “I reached my objective!”.
Now let set the path to our objective:
– Initial State:
Now that you have in mind all the conditions to realize your objective, let’s clarify it. We first consider the Initial State relative to the Objective you want to reach. Where do you situate yourself in the path to reach your objective? What have you already done amongst the required prerequisites. Let us take an example of an objective of learning a new language. The initial state is your actual level in this language, or any knowledge you have concerning this language, or even any information you have about where and how you are going to learn it. The initial state simply tells you in which step of the path toward your objective are you stepping right now.
– The Objective:
Then let us talk about the final state, the objective in itself. Now look at all what you wrote while answering to all the questions and conditions stated previously. That is your objective. It’s very important that you write down a clear objective taking care of all the conditions stated above.
Having your objective in hand, ask yourself “What is its purpose? Why do I want to reach it? What will it bring me to reach it?”. Why do we need to ask this question? Because simply if you don’t have a good reason for wanting to reach that objective, you may abandon at the first obstacle. The answer to this question is somehow your motivation behind accomplishing your objective. For example, let us say you want to learn to speak Spanish. Why do you want to learn it? Are you going to study or live in Spain? Are you dating someone Spanish? Or is it just an idea that came all of a sudden to your mind, so you said why not? If so, and if you don’t really have a reason to learn it, do you think you’ll have enough motivation to learn all the vocabulary, grammar, conjugation with all its irregular verbs and times… While if learning it will bring some valuable change in your life, then by focusing on those changes and those inputs, you’ll be able to overcome all the obstacles that you may encounter…
– The Obstacles:
Identifying them before starting the realization of your objective is very important. You must ask yourself the right questions to identify external and internal obstacles that may slow you down, if not stop you. It may look obvious for you at first sight, but if you ask the right questions you may notice some constraining parameters and factors that you had ignored up to then. So what are these questions. Many, depends on the situation, here are some: “What does prevent me from reaching my objective?”, yes because if there was nothing preventing you from doing it, you may have already reached it, “What am I missing?”, “Are there any external or internal causes that prevent me from doing it?”. The cause can be some event in the future, some undesirable reaction of a friend or a relative, some limiting internal state (stress, fear, anxiety, lack of courage or confidence). It may not be easy to overcome this kind of obstacles, you may need some external help, but identifying them is already doing a big part of the route.
– Your means:
In the other side, you also have to think of the resources that will help you to progress, to reach your objective. The resources may also be external or internal. The external can be people like relatives, partners, friends, teachers or any person or organism that has a role on helping you. They can be also events like a graduation, a certification, a competition, or some financial means like heritage, promotion, donation, gift, etc. Internal resources are also very important like courage, confidence, happiness, peacefulness, even love can be a helpful resource.
Having said that, keep in mind that you are not required to follow these steps in sequence like they were introduced to you. Thinking about resources can come before obstacles, purpose can come before the initial state. You may even start setting the path before checking the conditions stated in the beginning, or shuffle them together. But it’s very important that you take care of all the points stated above. They all represent the basis of Objective Clarification.
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