Today, I feel like sharing a tool that I believe works to create your own future, achieve your goals. It is far more concrete than things like visualization, the Law of Attraction or The Secret, which probably have their own values in certain contexts, but are generally quite far-fetched and presented in a too New Age way for me…
The Outcome Frame is the ideal tool for e.g. coaching and is in fact so popular that some books about coaching actually only deal with creating an outcome, whether they realize it or not. In coaching, psychotherapy and other psychological environments, it is important to specify your goals clearly in order to achieve them. In fact, an outcome is nothing more than a very much specified way of describing your goal, similar to the SMART objectives that are popular in the corporate world (where SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound).
In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), this is, however, done in a slightly different way, based on five criteria to formulate the outcome. The aim of this is, to start in the current situation and define a new situation that you want to attain and al the steps to get there. These criteria to define an outcome are as follows.
1. The outcome must be stated in positive terminology. So you need to describe what it is that you want, not what it is that you want to get rid of. This is related to the fact that the human brain doesn’t seem to understand the words “no” and “not” and therefore, when a sentence contains either of these words, it will process it in the opposite way. “Don’t go” becomes “go”. “No problem” becomes “problem”. The following sentence would not be permitted in an outcome, “I do not want to do this slave-work anymore”. It should be rephrased as, ”I want to find work in which I can act independently”.
2. The outcome must be within the own sphere of influence. It is great to describe an objective that involves other people to achieve it for you, but in daily life, that makes little sense. Other people are not going to change what they do, just because you are writing that they should. It must therefore be clear in the outcome that the person who wrote it is going to do something about it. So the outcome that is like, “I don’ want to be bullied anymore” should read, “I want to be able to defend myself against bullies”. You can of course discuss how far your own sphere of influence is (where we come to my criticism of methods like What the Bleep or The Secret), but then we are on thin spiritual ice that is outside the scope of this article.
3. There must be a measurable, provable goal of the outcome. So we must be able to use our senses to determine that the outcome is realized. What is it that you hear, see, feel at the moment that you achieved the goal of your outcome? Are other people involved as well? In what context and in what environment do we want to achieve our goal? When exactly? This step is used to make the outcome very specific, so that there can be no doubt anymore what needs to be done to get where we want to be.
4. What is the first concrete step to take to realize the outcome? Once you have defined this step, you can continue to define the following steps. Possibly, you will have to write separate outcomes to define the following steps more concretely. The aim of this part is to identify the path to the final situation.
5. Ecology. I have described the wider definition of Ecology earlier in my blog (see: http://www.vanderhaven.net/blog/20070114.html). In the context of NLP, the ecology-check means that we should verify if our outcome would be harmful for ourselves, the environment or others. What is the motivation behind wanting to achieve this outcome? Are you and other helped with it or is anybody harmed in any way? What is the “outcome sequitor”, the value or set of values that are satisfied by achieving the outcome?
Using these steps, an outcome can be defined at various levels. It can be something that is very specific from the start, like writing a book (I did in fact write an outcome before starting to write my book). It can also be something much less concrete, such as learning to deal with an illness. The abovementioned five criteria can then be used more or less specifically to formulate the outcome. Once the outcome is clearly defined and complies with the criteria, you don’t even need to look at it anymore: inside ourselves, we have done enough work to prepare ourselves to achieve the outcome and it will turn out that this is in fact the case. That is no magic, but just mental conditioning to achieve what we want to achieve in our lives.