This is about making plans and making the plans happen. Using the Outcome Model from NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming).

Ready? You’ll want to write down the answers to these questions.

1. What do you want?

Put this in positive terms – it’s what you want, not what you don’t want. I don’t want another year to go by without writing my second book … and that’s not the way to frame my desired outcome.

Make sure your outcome is something you control. I want more hours in a day every day. And the passage of time is not in my control. If my outcome is about time, it will have to be more specifically about what I do with a given chunk of time.

Develop a specific, sensory-based description. I can picture my book as I write it; the Word document growing by paragraphs and pages. I can see the cover with my name on it. I can even see myself signing books after a speaking engagement. I can hear the audio version of my new book. I can feel the weight of the book in my hand. And the sense of relief and accomplishment that I made it happen.

2. How will you know when you have it?

What evidence would show you that you’re achieving your goal? If it’s an income goal, that might be sales. Or a look at your bank balance. For a wellness goal you might measure blood pressure or weight; consistent numbers would demonstrate that you’d really met your objective.

In my book-writing example, this one’s easy. When I have copies of the book in my hands, I’ll know I’ve reached my goal.

3. Where, when and with whom do you want your outcome?

Put it in context. If your goal is to have more sales conversations, who will you talk to? On the phone or in person? Where will you meet? When will you schedule these talks? Get very specific.

4. What impact will your desired outcome have on your life? What will it do for you?

This is a big one. Knowing the impact gives a goal some juice.

What would another book do for me? I’d have another product to offer. Only a very few get rich on book sales. But another source of revenue wouldn’t hurt.

For speakers, books are credibility-boosters. I heard an industry expert say, “You’re not in the speaking business. You’re in the intellectual property business.” Another book should make me more marketable as a speaker.

And there’s a sense of accomplishment. It would just feel good to make this happen.

What about you? What’s the outcome you want, and what will it do for you when you have it?

5. Is there any potential downside to having what you say you want?

Most people’s instant answer is, “No, of course there’s no downside. Don’t be silly.” Which leads to the follow-up question …

6. What stops you from already having what you want?

Chances are pretty good that if you didn’t see some downside to having what you say you want, you’d already have it.

Let’s say you want to reach a healthy, natural weight. What possible downside could there be?

Well, you might have to eat less of things you really like. You might have friendships built around eating or dieting that would be in jeopardy if you changed. You might worry that if you were as attractive as you could be, you’d be promiscuous. (Don’t laugh – that’s a common one.) All that scary stuff stops you from already having what you want.

A business example: Maybe you want more clients and you’re pretty sure that means more sales conversations. What’s the potential downside?

The more people you talk to, the more you’ll hear “No.” You might fear they’ll think you’re pushy or money-grubbing. You might have some unconscious income limit, a notion of how much you’re supposed to make. (It could be about out-earning someone who’s important to you.) Maybe you don’t love what you do, so even if you say you want more clients the reality of doing more client work doesn’t make your heart sing.

So these two questions – what’s the downside and what stops you – are important ones. Sit with them awhile, and see what comes up.

Sometimes it helps to imagine that you already have your outcome and notice how you think other people will react to it. Our downside often lies in our belief that somebody important to us won’t like it if we have/do/be what we want.

7. What resources do you already have to help you get your desired outcome?

Count your internal resources – knowledge, talents, even your temperament. And pay attention to your external resources – people who support you, money you can access, experts you can learn from.

In the quest for clients, you’re already good at what you do; you have the skills in place to serve more people at a higher level. Your current clients are a resource – they could refer you to people they know who need the same kind of service. Maybe you have a coach for support or accountability.

8. What additional resources do you need to get what you want?

Whatever your outcome is, there might be a skill you need to learn or perfect in order to make it happen. A course you need to take or a certification that would help.

Maybe you need a team—employees or contractors to work with you. You may need financial resources – an investor or a line of credit.

9. Okay, how are you going to get your outcome?

You’ve laid the groundwork with the answers to these questions. This is where you actually map out your plan.

Make sure the first step is sensory-specific and achievable. That means you can see it, hear it and feel it. And it’s something you can actually do.

If your goal is to ask for more referrals, you can see the people you’re going to approach, hear the conversations you’re going to have, feel the phone in your hand. And as you think about additional clients coming your way, you know how that will feel too.

Consider whether there’s more than one way to get to your desired outcome. Flexibility is huge. Picture the path to your goal. If the path is blocked along the way, what do you do next? Plan for it so you come to a detour and not a stop.

So I’m ready to get to work on my book. And you? Let me know what your outcome is. Tell us what you want. And if you’d like to share your plan for getting what you want, I’d love to hear it.