A coloured man is walking in the desert and is about to die from exhaustion. He is tired, thirsty and hungry and, to tell the truth, quite desperate too. He falls to his knees, and then on his face and starts crawling. He understands that he is about to die and is ready for it, when all of a sudden a small lizard passes right in front of him. He mobilizes all the energy that is left in his body and grabs the lizard. At last, he thinks, I get something to eat! But then he has a second thought: what’s the point, this is only going to postpone my death, and I will have taken the life of this little lizard for no reason. So he lets the lizard go. Instantly, the lizard transforms into a fairy and says: “You have saved my life and broken the spell under which I was. To show you my gratitude you may make three wishes and I will make them all come true. I do recommend that you think very deep about your wishes, because this is your only chance”. The man thinks hard and says: “My mind is made, fairy. I want to be white, rich and have plenty of water. The fairy says: “are you quite sure?” The black man replies: “Hell, yeah, that’s more than enough!” So the fairy waves her magic wand, and does all the standard magic procedure, and … a glittering sound later, the wishes have come true. The coloured man has become white, there’s plenty of water and he is in a very luxurious atmosphere indeed. He is a bath tub in a 5-star hotel.
What has this got to do with reaching your objectives, you might ask? Well, just as the man in the story should have been slightly more specific about how he worded his wishes, you need to be very specific about your objectives, and follow these 10 Golden Rules:
- You have to be 100% in control of your objective. If your objective depends on someone else, then you cannot be sure that you will be able to reach it. You are the only person that you can control.
- It has to be formulated positively. Try not to think about a white horse. There you go; you can’t. The brain responds to positive instructions. With negative instructions, it has to first carry out the operation you tell him NOT to do, and then cross it out. It may take a bit of thinking, but you will get used to it. And by the way, stop and quit are negative. So instead of “stop smoking”, you may have to say “breathe healthily”, “clean up my lungs”, or something like that.
- Make a multisensory description of your objective. This is to train your brain to move forward towards the objective. Make a very clear and detailed picture of you as you have reached your goal. Create the scenery by visualizing it, add sound or a dialogue, imagine how you feel now that you have reached your goal. Now add a very pleasant smell to your scene. Smell is very powerful as it by-passes a few steps in the brain and goes straight to the decision-making center. You are the scriptwriter and the director of your goal, so go ahead and make it as big and nice as you can, and play it back as often as you can.
- Contextualise your goal and be very specific in doing it. Imagine that your goal is to be more relaxed and learn to let go. But not while you are riding your horse or driving your car, right? Or let’s say that your goal is to feel your emotions more intensely. But not when you are undergoing surgery or having your legs waxed. So when you are wording your objective, specify what, where, with whom, when, etc.
- What is your meta-objective, i.e. what does it satisfy for you to reach this particular objective? Let’s say that your objective is to weigh 65kg (and you are 75kg) in order to be healthier. Health is the value that you are seeking to pursue. Can you also satisfy the same value by doing more sports and eat more fruit and veggies?
- In harmony with your own ecosystem. Losing 10kg in 2 weeks may not be very good for your body, so think about your objective so that it is mild and gentle with you and in line with your inner and outer balance.
- The price to pay: what do you have to give up or do less of in order to reach your objective? Weigh it carefully to make sure that you are willing to pay the price, and that there will not be adverse effects to reaching your goal. You may wish to travel around the world, but are you ready to see your kids only once a week on skype for 3 months? Don’t just “imagine” if it’s ok for you; try to put yourself in the situation, and see if it’s ok.
- Consistent with who you are (becoming). You wish to go to a certain country, but that country is a dictatorship, and human rights are very important to you. Are you certain that this trip is the only way to satisfy your hunger for travel and your curiosity?
- Key indicators: you need to determine in advance how you will know that you will have reached your objective. This is linked to the multisensory description. If you describe well enough what you will see/feel/hear/smell/taste upon completion of your goal, that is what will serve you as a basis to determine your key indicators.
- Stepping stones: if your objective is spread over several days, weeks or months, it is useful to cut it into sub-objectives, by following the same criteria as you would for your goal. By doing this, you have a way to evaluate whether you are getting closer to your objective or, on the contrary, moving away from it. The first and last stepping stone, in the same way as the first and last page of a novel, are key. So spend time and effort to describe them.
Here’s a bonus:
As you are progressing towards your objective, and at every step of the way, celebrate! Celebrate the decision you made to move towards an objective, celebrate what you have already accomplished and, above all, celebrate when it doesn’t quite work the way you thought it would. Because that’s when you learn most about yourself. When failing, take time to understand what went wrong, make the necessary adjustments, and, off you go!
This is the first post of a series about the objectives. In future posts, I will give you some tips on how to prepare to reach your objective, and what to do when you fail. So watch this space for more!
Most of these rules are taken from NLP – neuro linguistic programming. For more information about NLP, visit nlpu. For information about NLP in French, search www.ressources.be