8 Practical NLP Techniques To Help Achieve Your Goals

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Setting and achieving a goal can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of life, but it can also feel like a pointless and lonely task, often plagued with uncertainties and setbacks that can make us question everything from our initial idea, to our execution strategies, to whether the juice is worth that pesky squeeze after all.

Now, let’s imagine that you wake up one day and decide you want to leave your corporate job and become a patisserie chef, because cake is life 🍰

How do you go about making this goal happen? How do you create a positive outcome?

Outcomes are sort of like cake, really: scattered all over the counter when the start, delicious at the end, and ALL achievable if we channel our inner Mary Berry and follow this easy 8-step r̶e̶c̶i̶p̶e̶ NLP guide.

No Mary, eight. But no matter, let’s get started!

Step 1. Create a positive and specific goal

Outcomes are expressed in the positive – meaning that they are things you want, as opposed to things you want to avoid, as well as in specific terms, meaning that they need to be focused on specific things you can visualise, as opposed to abstract concepts.

For example: Start you goal setting with objectives like “I want to become an award winning patisserie chef’, as opposed to saying “I don’t want to suck at baking’. Then, focus on a specific task, for example ‘I want to become the head patisserie chef at a Michelin restaurant’, as opposed to saying ‘I want to have a kitchen job that pays well’. In NLP, we really focus on positive and specific goals that allow our minds to focus on productive outcomes, and ones that are easy to visualise and contextualise.

Step 2. Take matters into your own hands

Set a goal that puts you in the driver seat even though you may need others to help you succeed.

For example: Your goal is to go to cooking school, but you need time to apply and interview, and a loan from the bank to afford the course. Saying ‘I need the bank to support me’ or ‘I need my boss to be understanding whilst I apply’ makes for vague statements that are not outcome based. Saying ‘I will maintain good credit’ or ‘I will ensure I am clear with my boss and will make the time up at work’ are outcome based solutions that put you in charge of the situation, even when you need the support of others.

Step 3. Contextualise

A really great NLP technique is to set your goal with as much context as you can visualise. Ask yourself where, when, why, and how, and ensure that you have created an ecological goal that fits within the rest of your life.

For example, say: I want to be admitted to the central London Witches and Wizards cooking school, for the June summer session that Mary Berry hosts, so I can start a job in gastronomy by January the following year.

This allows you to both visualise your goal in realistic settings, which help your brain feel it real and possible, as well as ensure it fits with the rest of your life, your family goals, your finances or your location.

Step 4. List your resources

Taking stock of what you already have helps you appreciate your current status as well as plan for what you don’t have. There are broadly five categories:

  • Objects – Such as cooking tools, an industrial kitchen you can practise in, video tutorials, cook books etc
  • People – Family, business contacts, chef friends etc that can support you
  • Role Models – People in the patisserie industry you look up to, or people you can talk to about their successful journey at cooking school
  • Personal Qualities – Abilities you already have, both behaviourally and role-specific, that will help you succeed; for example: a great palate for desserts, or the ability to work in a team
  • Money – Do you have enough? Can you raise enough?

Take note of what you already have that can help you achieve your goal, and what is under your direct control, as well as what is under the control of others and ask yourself: what do I need from myself to become a chef? What do I need from others?

Cheers, mate.

Step 5. Objectives

In NLP, breaking down an abstract idea into smaller pieces is called ‘Chunking Down’ and it’s very useful to break down undefined or overwhelming situations into manageable ones. This is one of best NLP techniques you will ever learn, and it’s not just for goal setting!

Let’s make an example: Losing 50 pounds, becoming a millionaire, or winning a pastry award don’t happen in a day, but you know what can? Losing half a pound. Saving £2. Learning to fold egg whites.

Break down your big dream into small, daily, concrete objectives, and do it a tiny bit at a time.

Step 6. Do an ecology check

In NLP, Ecology is the awareness of the ‘overall system’, and an ecology check is when one considers how an action or decision can impact the rest of one’s life. Some questions to consider could be:

  • What time and effort will this endeavour require?
  • Who else is affected by this? How will they feel?
  • What am I giving up to achieve my goal?
  • What might be interfering with my goal?
  • What is good about my current situation? What do I want to maintain?
  • What else could change once I achieve my goal?
  • Am I going to become really fat if I eat all the pastry I cook? (YES)

Step 7. Create your milestones

How will you know if you’re doing a good job, or if you’re progressing at the right pace?

A great NLP technique to help you achieve a goal is to create a milestone diary, perhaps on a calendar or by setting out specific tasks you must achieve by a certain date (not deflating your soufflé might be one), and test yourself on your milestones on their due date.

Step 8. Action Plan

Now that you have mental clarity on how to achieve your goal, and how to become the Guru of Chocolate Ganache, get ready to get ready!

  • Write. Stuff. Down. Make a plan for your own 1-to-7 steps. What is the dream? What do you already have that can help you achieve it? What’s it going to cost you and those around you? Writing things down keeps you accountable, and it’s a more permanent solution than just your word.
  • Keep your ‘Why’ front and centre. You’re going to have bad days, where you add sugar twice and nothing rises. You are going to want to quit. Keep the big picture clear in your head, and remember why it is you started.
  • Celebrate the tiny wins. Eventually sugar cookies will be beneath you, but for now, celebrate acing them, celebrate everyone tasting your cakes and loving them, celebrate every tiny muffin rise.

As the saying goes, nothing worth having is easy to have, but planning for success and taking large projects one step at a time makes a huge goal into a manageable, achievable one.

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