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Goal Setting 
BySue Knight   posted on01 Aug, 12 2781 Views 0 Comments Personality Development Add to favorite

Goal setting - you know the theory, you do the exercises but somehow you are not achieving quite the goals that you want. Well, NLP is after all about what really makes a difference - so what does? I have been working with goals - both my own and those of others for over twenty years now, and I think that I am beginning to work it out (so it need not take you so long!). As always the answers are very simple, ‘just common sense’, many people would say but it is our lack of skill in applying common sense that is so often the stopper. So here are some of my findings. And I write this at a time when the pool that I had dreamt about for years is being built in our home on a hillside in the heart of France. I don’t have many material goals - in fact none apart from this one, which has been close to my heart for many years now. I had always imagined myself writing my blockbusting best seller as I sat by the side of the pool, wine glass to my side, a pile of previously published books on the table, and the sound of my family splashing in the water beside me. But you know, I thought that I would have had this pool years ago, and that it would be twice the size. I thought that ‘my family’ would be our immediate sons and daughters, not our grandchildren (we haven’t quite got to that stage yet but I have a feeling that day is not too far away). I should have got the clue from my unconscious imaginings about the timing - the pile of previously published books was a giveaway. It is only now that I could create anything resembling a pile. It would have been a pile of one a few years ago. And most significant of all, it was only when I had given up the idea that I was ever going to get this pool that somehow, and for some reason, my husband agreed to it. So the first principles of goal setting:

1.We cannot expect to achieve our goals in precisely the way that we think we want them. We might achieve this, but so often I have found that when my goal has been achieved it is in another form and another time, but in a way that really does fit with everyone who is important in my life. (I had set my heart on a kidney shaped pool but my family said that they could not race up and down a kidney!). We keep our goals at arm’s length when we have them in the category of ‘must haves’. When we let go of what we must have is when we set ourselves free to achieve what we really want. The secret behind much of life’s real achievements is paradoxical e.g. we need to give (up) to receive.



Throughout last year I worked closely with the Board of a Marketing company, coaching them to work as a ‘real’ team and to be an aligned example of the culture that they wanted in their business. One of the stumbling blocks in this was that the two founding managing directors had ‘fallen out’ and found it increasingly difficult not only to deal with each other but even to talk to each other. I often saw them individually but it was on one of the rare occasions that I did see them interact with each other that the issue became astoundingly clear. They had quite different ways of setting goals. Each thought that the other was being ‘bloody minded’ when they did not respond in the way that each wanted. Those of you who are familiar with the concept of meta-programmes (I prefer to call them filters in a business setting) will understand the issue here. Each had a different way of thinking, and therefore of communicating, especially in the way that they approached goal setting. One was very skilled at placing himself at some point in the future and imaging what he would be seeing, hearing and feeling. When he did this he invited his joint MD to do the same but his response was usually something of the order of ‘there is no way that we can do that if we are not aligned - we must get that straight first’. The first MD (let’s call him Jim) would get frustrated thinking that ‘Bill’ was just being difficult. But the truth was that Bill did not think this way. Bill likes his goals to unfold from a state of alignment. I am quite partial to this style of goal realisation too. You get clear what you stand for in terms of your purpose in business, indeed in life. You sort out your mission, and you open yourself to the values that you want to be an example of, and how they compare with how you are perceived day by day, moment by moment. In this state of oneness with yourself and the world you walk through the ever-changing environments of which you are a part. In this state you attract those opportunities that fit with who you are. And most important of all you are in the state not only in which to recognise the opportunities but also to seize them, or open yourself to them, if you prefer the gentler approach. Of course once they discovered that these were ‘just’ different ways of thinking and that neither was deliberately trying to sabotage the other, and then they accepted each other and began to work together, dovetailing their thinking and their strategies and business planning. More than that, they rediscovered their friendship.

2.We have different preferences for how we think about our goals. Some people do indeed like to step out into the future and imagine what they can see, hear and feel. Others prefer to align themselves with what they believe is important in the world, and walk forward allowing their goals to unfold. These two approaches are not contradictory but can dovetail each other beautifully once we accept that we have our own unique ways of thinking about goals... Isn’t that one of the most important learning in NLP, and isn’t that yet another paradox - that to create the space for others to change, we need to learn how to accept them for just who (and how) they are?

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