Monday, 28 October 2013

Goal setting through well formed outcomes

I recently spoke at the Fundraising Conference of a well known charity, and in about 90 minutes I managed to cover a whole load of stuff about personal and professional development. Most importantly I spoke about the need to take personal responsibility, as the fact is if you don't no one else will. During the session I spent time with the group (80 or 90 of them) doing some goal setting, but I would like to have spent more time, as I think this is an area that many people find difficult. 

I thought I would share here what I might have covered if we had had that time.

One type of goal setting that I have found really helpful recently is based on the concept of 'well-formed outcomes'. Developing such outcomes helps you define a goal and how to reach that goal. You can do this as part of a process with a coach or mentor, your line manager, or with one of your team.

There are a number of different stages:

1. Set the goal or outcome in a positive way and at a high level
For example if your goal is: 'I don't want to be negative about x any more', that is not a positive goal. If you rephrase it: 'I want to be always positive about x in the future.' that is a bit more like it. Another example. If you have a fear (or even undesired nerves) of public presentation (many people do!) your positive goal might be: 'I want to feel relaxed and confident when speaking in public.'

2. How will you know when your goal is achieved from a sensory perspective?
We all know how we feel physically when we achieve something. But have you ever thought about breaking this down into what you see, hear, feel, smell or taste? Taking the example from above, how do you feel when you speak in public? Do you feel sick, do you need to go to the loo, do you see a sea of faces out there all looking critically at you? Do your shoulders feel tense, do you clench your fists, do you shake? Does your head feel dizzy? Does your sight go blurred? 

Well these are some of the potential negative sensory feelings. But how will you feel when you have achieved your goal? How will you know when you feel relaxed and calm. How will  your breathing feel? Will you have a sense of clarity that allows you to focus on your audience? How will your stomach feel? How will your posture feel? How will the sense of satisfaction manifest itself in your body when you deliver a fantastic presentation? Imagine those feelings now for your particular goal.

3. Break down the steps that will help you get to your goal or outcome
It is your responsibility (and yours only) to ensure you achieve your goal. You may have support along the way, but it is ultimately down to you. So how will you do this? Think about the small steps that will help you get to your goal. When you break things down into small steps things suddenly seem more achievable. 

Continuing with the example of having a goal of being a calm and confident presenter, what are the steps you can take. How can you master the content? How can you test the content? How can you test the style of delivery? How can you make your visuals and examples and anecdotes better? How can you take steps to relax before and during the presentation? How can you measure your success? How will you feel during and after the presentation?

4. Think about the context in which you want to achieve your goal or outcome
Carrying on with the example we have already used, in which context will you be delivering presentations? Is it for a wedding speech, speaking to colleagues at an internal event or meeting, speaking to people you don't know, e.g. at a conference? Where will you be when you make this speech? make your outcome context specific; it will help make it more achievable.

5. Think about the positive effects of the current situation and the consequences of reaching your outcome
Let's take a different example here. Say you are thinking about applying for a promotion to become a manager or head of a department. What are the things that you currently have that you might potentially lose? For example you might not to be able to interact with your current colleagues in the way you do now. You might not be able to go out and get drunk with them! You may no longer be seen as approachable. You may have less time for your family and friends. 

You need to think about the positive effects of the status quo, what are the 'must haves' and what are the 'would likes' when you reach your goal? If you need to give up any of the 'must haves', what can you put in place to replace them? 

6. Set your goals
Just do it!

7. Letter to yourself
One final tip you might find useful. This is about using the future to help you reach your goals. Have you ever tried writing a letter to yourself? Imagine, once you have achieved your goal, in one year, two year's time, whatever. What might you write to yourself? 

"Dear Paul, It is 28th October 2014. I present regularly in public, and I am rated consistently as one of the top ten speakers. I have learnt how to relax before presenting. I feel relaxed, confident and at ease in front of an audience, large or small, and I am constantly aware of their presence and gain feedback from them."

Seeing yourself in the future helps make it real. By saying 'I am', you are more likely to achieve your goals.

8. In summary
Think about your goals. Think about how you might break them down in the way I have described above. This is a really useful way of assessing and setting your goals and putting together a road map of how to get there. I hope you have found this useful. Let me know who you get on!

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