Here it is, not quite March, and I don’t know about you, but some of my 2015 goals have already fallen by the wayside. I’m regrouping, and hoping you might find this tool useful too.

It’s the Outcome Model from NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) and it’s a fabulous process for making plans and making them happen. Ready? You’ll want to write down the answers to these questions.

1.  What do you want?

State it in positive terms – it’s what you want, not what you don’t want. I don’t want my desk to be such an everlovin’ mess, and that’s not the way to frame my desired outcome.

Make sure it’s something you control. I want more hours in a day every day. And the passage of time is not something I 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 the top of my desk (not that I’ve seen it lately!) clear of the papers and folders and business cards, with only what I need for today’s work visible and everything else filed away. And with stapler and paperclips and pens un-buried. There’s no ­sound associated with it. But I can feel the grain of the wood that’s mostly covered right now. And the sense of spaciousness that I want to have in my office.

2.  How will you know when you have it?

What evidence do you need, to know that you’re achieving your goal? If it’s an income goal, sales might be the evidence or you could look to your bank balance. For wellness goal you might measure blood pressure or weight, and it could take consistent numbers to demonstrate that you’d really met your objective.

In my clean-desk example, I’d be happy to see the piles diminishing. But I’d need to be looking at a clear space for some weeks before I could feel confident that I’d conquered the chaos.

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 a clear desk do for me? I’d save a ton of time looking for stuff if I had it filed in some orderly fashion. It would make follow-up much easier. It’s stressful not being able to find things, especially when I’m in a time-crunch – it would be a relief to be rid of that. And I’m actually embarrassed for anyone to see this mess; it’s a constraint keeping the office door closed and that gets really old. So there are a lot of ways I’d benefit from dealing with this.

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 to this question is, “No, of course there’s no downside. Don’t be ridiculous.” 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. All good, right? What possible downside could there be?

Well, you might have to eat less of some things you really like. You might have friendships built around eating and even around being heavy 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 – I’ve heard that one hundreds of times.) All that scary stuff is what stops you from already having what you want.

Here’s 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 no’s you’ll hear. You might worry that 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 would feel wrong to bring in bigger bucks. (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 is not appealing.

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 the perception 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 – the things you know, the talents you have, even your temperament may be an advantage. And pay attention to your external resources – people who support you, money you can access, classes you’re taking or books you’re reading.

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

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

Maybe it’s a trip to The Container Store for me. Or an organizer to help me clear the clutter and create a system to keep it cleared. Maybe I need a small-chunks-plan like 15 minutes a day filing, tossing or shredding.

Whatever your outcome is, maybe there’s a skill you need to learn or perfect in order to make it happen. Maybe there’s a professional who can help you get there. A course you need to take or a certification that would help.

You know that if a more robust business is your outcome, speaking is the best way to make it happen and there is a professional who can help you get there. Shoot me an email and let’s talk.

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 the additional customers coming your way, you know how that will feel too.

You might consider whether there’s more than one way to get to your desired outcome. You’re picturing 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 this desk. And you? Let me know what your outcome is. What do you want? And if you’d like to share your plan for getting what you want, I’d love to hear it.