Goal Setting – A PROCESS

  • Start something
  • Stop something
  • Want more of something
  • Want less of something
  • Want to develop new habits
  • Want to give up old habits

The possibilities and permutations are endless!

What they all have in common is that they want to move from where they are now (current state) to somewhere they’d rather be (desired state)

Goal Setting

Whatever the presenting state, I will always work through a goal setting process with clients.

Why set goals?

A goal properly set is halfway reached ~ Zig Ziglar

Not having a goal is a bit like trying to plan a trip without knowing the destination

I would go further and say that if you follow a goal setting process like the one I am going to share with you here, you will not only be clear about your direction of travel, you will have developed your motivation to achieve your goal and maximised your prospects of success

The Goal Setting Model I Use

The model I will share with you comes from NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming).

Like all of NLP, this NLP outcome/ goal setting model was developed by studying people who were good at setting and achieving goals and were happy with the outcomes they got

Many of you will already be familiar with goal setting models like SMART – nothing I will say here contradicts what you know already – but this model has some additional components that really seem to provide additional impetus to achieve goals.

So – let’s make a start….


My goal here is to share with you the process and the benefits of using a tool like this to enhance your professional and personal life.


Ok, What do I want? What do you REALLY want? (a specific goal for the future) How is this new or different to what you have now?

The Spice Girl question – what do you really, really want?

Think context: Where, when, how, with whom etc – we’ll come on to more specifics later but this is designed to start to direct and narrow your focus.

You’d be surprised how many people who come to me for coaching and hypnotherapy find it difficult to answer this question – they are experts in their current state – can talk at great length about what is wrong with where they currently are or how they are feeling now – they know exactly what they don’t want but have never considered an alternative. Sometimes just asking “what would you rather have?” is sufficient to cause them to do a complete about face, put their problems behind them and look to a brighter, more successful future.

This step is like putting the final destination into your sat-nav


How is this, a good thing for you? What’s the “pay off”? A one sentence that says it all. The why?

Extra questions:

Where do you want to be?
What do you want?
What do you want to achieve?
What are you going towards?

Positive not negative:
All goals need to be stated in the positive

Don’t think of a pink elephant with purple stripes now…

Goal setting - positiveI’m willing to bet that you all thought of a pink elephant despite being told not to.

Our unconscious does not process negative commands – it just hears pink elephant.

The more we focus on what we don’t want, the more fixated we become on it.

Negative goals:
Eg. I want to stop biting my nails/smoking/eating chocolate.

To turn a negative into a positive ask “What would you rather have” or “what would be better than that”

Make it really positive – it’s always easier to do what you want to do rather than what you have to do. When you find your source of inspiration, you will also find your source of motivation.  A good trick here is to focus on the benefits of the intended outcome – e.g. What will having more money get you?


What “stuff” do you need to achieve this goal? By stuff or resources we mean, people, knowledge, money, skills etc. Be clear what exactly it is that you will need to accomplish this goal, break it down into small steps.

What resources do you need to get this goal? These could be intangible as well as tangible – a state of mind, a way of being – e.g. confident.

Mine your existing resources – have you ever done anything like this before?

If you are not sure what resources you need – ask the question in another way – “What prevents you moving towards your goal, or even having it right now?”

If you identify any that you don’t already have – acquiring these will become separate goals – run the process through on these (e.g. if you need a particular skill – identify a course etc)


Is this goal really yours, explain how you “own” this, how you will be able to maintain ownership, motivation etc?

Is this goal really yours? (not something someone else has told you you should do, or something that requires others to change their behaviour).

Is it within your control?  What IS within your control to unfluence or affect? Make sure it relates to things you can directly affect


This is the “Quality control” stage or cost benefit analysis.

The aim of this step in the goal setting process is to discover whether the desired goal is right for you in all the circumstances of your life.

Is it appropriate in your personal relationships? Does it respect your values?

Ask yourself “What will happen if I do not attain this goal?” Be clear about the “pain” that you will experience.  This is the downside of staying as you are

“What will happen if I do?” Be clear about the pleasure that you will enjoy, the benefits of achieving the goal – what will it give you that you don’t have now?

Then check is there any downside to succeeding? Is there a part of you objecting? What would you lose/have to give up? Is this a price you are prepared to pay?


How will you know you are making progress? What will you see, hear and feel when you have achieved youry goal? What will you see, hear and feel at the half way mark etc …

Make sure your responses engage your senses.

It is Important to know how you will know when you have succeeded – e.g. “I want to be more confident” – how will you know you are confident enough?

Have a clear picture of yourself having achieved the outcome – make it really positive.

Your brain seeks to bring your dreams into reality.  We’ve already established that you can’t NOT think of something so e.g if you think a lot about the food you shouldn’t eat, you’ll crave it more so rather than not trying to think of the food you shouldn’t be eating, have a replacement series of thoughts ready – seeing yourself looking good in a bikini on a tropical beach for instance!


Is this outcome specific enough, can you focus on this without to many distractions? Do you need to break this down into smaller steps? If yes, start again with smaller “chunks”.

Make sure you are clear about the when, where and who with.


When are you going to take the first step? What date do you want to be half way? what date are you going to set for accomplishment of your goal?

A goal without action is just a dream. Without action there is no change

And Finally…

Goal setting using a model like this one becomes a habit – a habit that propagates success.

You will be beginning with the end in mind, you will have a clear blueprint for success and know what actions to take.

Free Download

We have put together a workbook that takes you through the APROCESS model one step at a time – download your copy from our free resources page


Free Resources


To find out more, contact us to discuss a one-to-one session, or check out the UK College of Personal Development’s website here – we regularly run goal setting and personal development courses.

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