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Will you be happy to see 2021 in the rearview mirror? I am feeling so ready for a fresh start!

Between the Omicron-fueled resurgence of COVID-cancellations and shut-downs, and a couple of big business-related disappointments, I’m eager to leave the past in the past and launch a New Year.

Of course, that raises a question. How to make sure the new year isn’t just like the old one?

I’ve been known to scoff at New Year’s goal-setting. Still, when it comes to making a new year feel new, it does help to have some concrete objectives. That’s where NLP’s Outcome Model can be useful.

Here’s how it works …

  What do you want?

It’s important to put this in positive terms – focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. I don’t want another professional opportunity to get wiped off the calendar, and that’s not the way to frame things.

Make sure your outcome is something you control.  It’d be nice if this pandemic would be over, already. And the spread of a virus is not in my control. If my outcome is about health, it will have to be more specifically about what I do to protect mine, and even at that, there’s some uncertainty baked in.

Develop a specific, sensory-based description.  I can picture myself in front of an audience. I can see them leaning in, a look of attention on their faces. I can hear them laughing, asking questions, sharing their own experiences. I can feel the energy in the room.

  How will you know when you have it?

What evidence would show you you’re achieving your goal? If it’s an income goal, that could be sales or a look at your bank balance. If you’re setting a wellness goal, you might measure blood pressure, weight, or steps per day.

In my speaking engagements example, multiple dates on my calendar every month will show me I’m on track.

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

Set the context. If your goal is to have more sales conversations, who will you talk to? On the phone, on Zoom, or in person? When will you schedule these talks?  How frequent will they be? Get very specific.

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

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

What would more speaking engagements do for me? Increased income is an obvious answer—more speaking = more speaking fees.

Then there’s the satisfaction of having some influence. It’s common to hear from people, sometimes long after a gig, that something they heard that day created a big shift for them. I love that! More of it would be a great thing.

Every speaking opportunity can lead to more opportunities. Somebody hears my talk and says, “My group could use that.” Or it might be the spark for individual coaching.

And there’s a sense of accomplishment. It would just feel good to be busier this coming year.

By now I hope you’re thinking about the outcome you want, and what will it do for you when you have it.

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

Your immediate answer is probably, “No, of course there’s no downside. Don’t be silly.” So, I have a follow-up question …

  What stops you from already having what you want?

Chances are good that if you didn’t see some downside to this outcome of yours, you’d already have it.

Let’s say you want more clients. You’re pretty sure that means having more sales conversations. What’s the potential downside?

The more people you talk to, the more you’ll hear “No.” Maybe you’re inclined to avoid rejection by skipping the whole process.

Or maybe you’d hear “Yes” more often, which would bring in more money. Sounds like a plus, but you might have some unconscious notion of how much money you’re supposed to make. (It could be about not out-earning someone who’s important to you.) 

Maybe you just 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.

Sit with these two questions—what’s the downside and what stops you—and see what comes up. They’re important ones and the answers aren’t always obvious.

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 be happy if we have/do/be what we want.

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

Count your internal resources – knowledge, talents, even your personality.

And pay attention to your external resources too – people who support you, money you can access, experts to give you advice.

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.

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

Whatever your outcome is, you might need to learn a new skill to make it happen, or hone the skills you already have. Maybe there’s a course or a certification that would help.

Could be a team is in order—employees or contractors to work with you. You may need financial resources like an investor or a line of credit.

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

You’ve laid the groundwork by answering these questions. Time to 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 do in real life, not in some fantasy-land.

If your goal is to generate more business from referrals, you can picture the people you’re going to approach, hear the conversations you’re going to have, sense the phone in your hand. You can imagine the words coming out of your mouth and feel the enjoyment of talking with them.

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. You know what they say about the best-laid plans. Flexibility is enormously important.

Picture the path to your goal. If that path happens to be blocked somewhere along the way, what will you do next? Plan for it now so that roadblock becomes a detour and not the end of the road.

I’m mapping out the steps to a fuller speaking calendar in 2022. Creating that sensory image. Considering first—and subsequent—steps in the process. And pondering what’s kept me from taking some of those steps so far.

And you? 

Let me know your outcome for 2022 by posting a comment below to tell us what you want. And you might even share your plan for making it happen.