Little and Often: the art of setting goals

I can clearly recall my first push-bike. It was orange. My maintenance program involved cycling until the chain was dry and everything squeaked. Then Id break out Dads 3-in-1 oil and pour about half a tin into any opening I could find. This solved the squeaks, but at the cost of an oil-stained garage floor and an ear-bashing from Dad. A little and often, is better than a lot and seldom, was his advice. Not that I paid much attention.

Now that Im running my own business I finally understand what he was on about. Its sound advice. Take for example product design. As a trainer, I need some courses to run. Simply being skilled at the things I train isnt enough; I need to turn them into products that customers wantand make money while Im doing it! At first I set out to design the complete managers tool kit. Gradually, it dawned on me that creating an entire MBA program was a significant undertaking and that perhaps a good place to begin was with a couple of half-day seminars. Its a bit like when we moved into our first house. At first the renovations were daunting, but gradually, one job at a time, we created our dream home.

It seems to me that the trick to achieving your goals is two-fold. The first is to dream. Your dream is to achievement, as nectar is to a bee: its what keeps you motivated and draws you forward. And once you have created the dream, start taking small, manageable steps to achieve it.

The thing about dreams is to formulate them in a way that makes them really compelling. In his book Transforming Communication NLP (neurolinguistic programming) trainer Dr. Richard Bolstad describes an effective goal-setting model called SPECIFY.

Heres how it works.

The key is to clearly imagine what it will be like when youve achieved your goal. Take a moment, and get a really clear picture of how it looks. What are you saying to yourself as you achieve it? What does it feel like to be in your body, right there at the moment of completionfeels good, doesnt it?

Once youve created that future memory, you can recall it any time you want  which is a powerful way of motivating yourself.

When creating this future memory ensure your goal is stated in a positive way. For example, the driving force behind my marketing plan isnt to make enough money to stay in business. The danger with this goal would be that I could find myself making just enough to survive, but no more. A better goal is to continually create new networks and opportunities that give me the fulfilling, abundant lifestyle I want.

Positively stated goals are easy to spot, when you create your future memory of them you feel excited and raring to go.


The second thing to consider when creating new goals is: how do they fit in with your overall commitments? Ask What will I gain from doing this?, and What will I have to change, or let go of, to achieve this goal? For example, in striking out on my own, I knew I was going to gain the freedom to run my life the way I wanted  at the cost of a steady wage and, in the early stages, some changes in the way I spend money. These are very useful questions. Its good to brainstorm your answers to them and then carefully consider what youve written. Resolve any conflicts between what you want and what it will take to get it before you take action.

Now you have your big dream, how do you get started? This is where my Dads advice of a little and often comes into its own. Brainstorm the first small steps you could take towards your dream. Then pick the one thats easiest to achieve and do it within the next 24 hours. The smallest thing will propel you forward: a single phone call; a website investigated; an idea mind mapped. Then the next small step is easier, and several new smaller steps come to mind, and before you know ityoure flowing!

And then this amazing thing happens, as Joseph Campbell so beautifully put it:

Follow your bliss and dont be afraid, and doors will open where you didnt know they were going to be. Its trueyour dreams await you.   NZB


Chris Lampard is a trainer/coach who uses NLP to create change. To know more about SPECIFY and how to live your dreams call 021 117 5211 or chris@thinkright.co.nz.  

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