Maybe you’ve given up on New Year’s Resolutions. It’s kind of a corny tradition, and many of us have concluded we can’t keep a promise to ourselves past January 17. Even that might be a stretch.

But there is another way to think about starting 2019 with a clean slate, making plans and making the plans happen. Consider 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?

Express your desire in positive terms – it’s what you want, not what you don’t want. I don’t want another year of sparse speaking gigs…and that’s not the way to frame my desired outcome.

Make sure your outcome is within your control. I want more people seeking me out to speak, calling, emailing, contacting me through my website. Sadly, what other people do is not in my control. If my outcome is about interactions with others, it will have to be more specifically about what I do to initiate those interactions or make them more productive.

Develop a specific, sensory-based description. I can picture myself in front of an audience; the people responding to what I say. I can see myself answering questions and signing books after the speaking engagement. I can hear applause. I can feel the handshakes. And the sense of exhilaration I always feel as a talk wraps up.

  1. How will you know when you have it?

 What evidence would show you that you’re achieving your goal? If it’s you’re setting an income goal, that’s likely 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 speaking example, this one’s easy. When I have the dates on my calendar, I’ll know I’ve reached my goal.

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

This is about context. If your goal is more sales conversations, who will you talk to? On the phone or in person? When will you schedule these talks? Get very specific about your objectives.

For me, this is about numbers. I should be speaking four to six times a month and boosting that in the second half of the year.

  1. 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 your goal some juice.

What would more frequent speaking do for me? I’d be making more money of course, and that’s crucial. I’d also be building momentum—I know that gigs lead to more gigs.

And I’d increase my sphere of influence. More people reading my newsletter. More book sales. More coaching clients.

There’s also 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?

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

Your instant answer is probably, “No, of course there’s no downside. Don’t be ridiculous. I said I wanted it, didn’t I?” Which leads to the follow-up question …

  1. 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 at risk 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 worry 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 not out-earning someone who’s important to you.) Maybe you don’t love your work, so even if you say you want more clients, the reality of doing more client work doesn’t make your heart sing.

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 expect other people to react. Our downside often lies in our fear that somebody important to us will be unhappy if we have/do/be what we want.

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

Count your internal resources – talents, knowledge, experience, even your temperament. And pay attention to external resources too – 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.

  1. 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. Maybe there’s a course you need to take or a certification that would help.

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

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

You’ve laid the groundwork with the answers to these questions. This is where you get down to business and 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 really do—it’s within your capability and your control.

If your goal is to ask for more referrals, you can see, in your mind’s eye, 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 a huge help. Picture the path to your goal. If that path is blocked along the way, what would you do next? Plan for that possibility so you come to a detour and not a stop.

So, I’m ready to get to work on filling my speaking calendar. And you?

Post a comment below to tell us your outcome for the new year. And if you’d like to share your plan for getting what you want, I’d be delighted to hear it.