Sometimes certain words become a “buzz word” and it can sometimes become an irritation because it’s thrown into every sentence and overused. Even by those who don’t really know what it means.
A friend of mine recently mentioned how the word “outcome” irritates her. It’s a popular word from the NLP environment, and it’s often used to ask whether a person is really clear on what it is they want from a specific situation. Hah, and maybe even “NLP” is one of those buzz terms that can grate, now that I think about it!
Back to Outcome
It’s often used like this:
- What’s your ideal outcome?
- Have you thought about your outcome?
- What outcome do you want?
Used in the NLP sense, it means to create a very, very specific and well-rounded “outcome” (heck, even I can’t think of a different way to say it!) It means to have a clear idea of what you want the end result of a situation to look like, sound like and feel like. It means involving all the senses or at least the 3 most important (see, hear and feel). When we set out to create something (a situation, product, project, or goal), our subconscious mind is very involved in this process and the only way it has to communicate with the external world, is through the senses.
When we use the senses to describe an ideal situation, we create a way to measure results. If we say “I want to be happier”, there’s no real way to measure that. When exactly will I know that I’ve reached that goal? One smile more may mean that I’m “happier”. On the other hand, when I say “I want to smile 7 times a day, have a deep belly laugh once a day, feel lighthearted when I go to bed and hear myself say “I’m grateful for my life”, that’s a result we can measure. It’s specific, we will know whether we’ve reached that goal or not.
Setting an outcome for clients
Nowadays, I work with my clients in this way as well. I work very closely with my clients to support them to move forward in the direction of their dreams, creating their ideal lives in the process. We don’t only look at the past and how it created their current patterns and habits, we also take an honest look at where they want to be instead, and how they choose to create their lives. We’re all works in progress.
One such client is Cynthia (name changed). She came to me because she was experiencing a whole range of issues that she hated. She’d been trying by herself, unsuccessfully, for many years, to change and couldn’t figure out what else to do. By the time she came to me, she’d almost given up hope that change would be possible for her. She mentioned that she’d read book upon book, trying to implement the ideas and felt inspired for little bursts, after which inspiration waned, and she went right back into her old habit patterns.
Sound familiar? We ALL do that. It’s human.
In our first session together (this is a free Strategy Session that we set up to discover whether we’re a good fit for each other) we set a proper outcome for Cynthia. We went into detail with what no longer worked for her. Things like constant self-doubt, procrastination, negative self-talk, anxiety, needing to be perfect, avoiding conflict, continuously wondering “What will they think?”
Then we took a look at what she wanted instead. I find so often that it’s quite hard for people to explain how they want to be, or behave (in positive words) because we’re all so used to saying what we don’t want anymore. Part of setting an outcome is to say exactly what we want, in words that are magnetic and draw us towards the desired place.
Cynthia mentioned things like trusting herself, feeling able to handle whatever comes her way, expressing her feelings and opinions authentically, being relaxed and comfortable, standing up for herself, delegating and giving instructions at work with ease and grace, and saying “no” when appropriate. Without the guilt!
What does it take to change?
During this Strategy Session, Cynthia realized with absolute clarity that one of the missing ingredients in all her past “I’m going to change” experiences, were 2 things.
Support, and accountability.
When we have no support and we hit a snag or it gets difficult, it’s so easy to say “it’s too hard, I can’t do this.” It’s the same with making a commitment and accountability. If we have not committed to a process, and have someone to keep us accountable, someone who can encourage us on the way when things feel too tough, it’s the easiest thing in the world to say “I guess this is just not for me. I guess I’m destined to stay this way. I’m going back to my comfort zone where I know how to do things my way.”
It’s not a failing, it’s just the way we do things, and it’s okay… until the pain of staying the same is too much to bear. It’s because of THIS unbearable pain that Cynthia decided “enough is enough” and that she needed help, support, encouragement and accountability.
We embarked on a 6 month journey together and a week or two ago, we had a Celebration session. This is an incredibly important part of the journey I let my clients experience – we so often miss the HUGE shifts and changes we’ve been able to make over a few months.
You know how, when you’ve had a headache and it’s no longer there, you can’t even remember you had that headache or how bad it was? How it affected you? That’s what we do with life’s challenges as well. When we no longer have a particular problem, or it’s decreased in severity by even 30%, we can hardly remember how bad it was to begin with.
In Cynthia’s celebration session, I asked her specific questions about her journey. You should have seen her face light up more, and more and more as she realized what she’d accomplished in a few short months.
I had the original Strategy Session mind map with me, where I wrote down her words about the problems she was facing at the time, and how she would like her life to be instead. I wish I could explain adequately how amazed and taken aback she was. She’d say something like “and what else I can do now that I couldn’t do before is……. “. Then I’d show her on the mind map how she used those exact words in our original Strategy Session.
The most precious moment of this Celebration was when her eyes filled with tears, she had the biggest, most radiant smile on her face and she said “I feel like I could hug you!”
Guess what we did next?
Cynthia’s journey clearly showed me the following:
- when we know where we currently are,
- and we have clarity about where we’d like to be instead,
- and write it down so we can check back later
- and then just dive in and to the work,
- and get support for the tough times,
- we get a LOT further than we could possibly imagine in the beginning.
I know that when we started, Cynthia didn’t think it would be possible for her to change those problems that looked and felt so insurmountable. She’d been struggling for years and years on her own and had almost given up on herself, shrinking back into her shell every time her efforts failed to produce results.
Where’s your struggle?
Have you felt this way before? I know I have. I’ve experienced it many, many times in my own life, with my own struggles. It’s really hard to change if we don’t have support, a leader who’s cleared the way for us, who’s been through those same issues and can show us an easier way to get out of the thick forest.
I invite you to take these three steps to help you shift your struggle:
- Draw a mindmap of the situation you no longer want, and write everything on there that’s no longer working for you. All the negative stuff. Mention it ALL. Use seeing, hearing and feeling words. Tell it like it is. Get it out of your head onto paper (or computer).
- Draw another mindmap of how you want it to be instead.
- This time, write all the positive stuff, using seeing, feeling and hearing words. What will you (and possible the other people involved in the situation) look like, sound like and feel like when you have accomplished your ideal outcome? How do you want to be? What would you like to be able to do, say or think that is not possible now? Have fun, and dream big!
- Now you need a strategy – a plan of action to get you there.
- Ask yourself “What current resources do I have to help me accomplish this?” and make a list.
- Ask yourself “What other resources do I need (that I don’t yet have) to help me accomplish this?” It could be you need to learn another skill, go on a course, get help and support, get a mentor, coach or therapist.
- Write down by WHEN you want to be/have this new situation. I’ve learnt (through personal experience) if we keep wishing for things to change, it all stays annoyingly exactly the same. The only sure way for change to happen is to make a plan of action, then to start taking action.
Any creation process (a goal, a new life, a new way of being) takes commitment. The way commitment shows up, is in our bank account, and in our calendar. Are you spending money or time on your “wish” or “want”? If not, ask yourself “How much do I really want this change?”
If you have a challenge you’ve been trying to navigate and change for a while with no results, and you feel tired, despondent and sick of trying, I invite you to drop me an email or give me a ring and we’ll take it from there. I’ve been through this type of challenge myself – struggling alone, really struggling, and feeling sick and tired of the struggle. It’s like the sun that breaks through days of cloud cover when someone finally comes forward who’s walked that road, and can show us an easier way.
I also invest in coaching. I also need someone to show me the way for my personal challenges and struggles. I do know what it’s like to not know how to get through it. It’s wonderful to have a supporter, someone who encourages me all the way and cheers me on through thick and thin.
If you’re ready to stop the struggle, my warm invitation is to email me now, while you’re thinking about it. Let’s talk about setting your clear outcome and having that celebration, reaching your personal dream and living the life you are dreaming of.
photo credit: Billy Wilson Photography via photopin cc