What it is that you are looking to gain from reading this post? What is your main goal? Your focus? Your aspirations? Your Desired Outcome (DO)?

Now take a moment to really visualise your DO – taste it, smell it, feel its rich texture, experience it in glorious high definition colour. Associate the benefits of achieving the outcome – what does it feel like? What does it look like? What benefits does it give to you?

Ensure that your DO is framed in the positive – your mind works best working towards a DO, rather than away from a negative association. The brain will procrastinate to process a DO of “wanting to lose weight,” for example – that’s a negative association, and the brain will subliminally protect you from losing anything. Your brain is hard-wired to avoid any type of loss. Behavioural theorists call this “loss aversion.” A positively framed DO such as “I want to reach my target weight of…” is much more appealing to your overprotective subconscious.

Ensure also that your DO is your DO. By that, I mean that you need to be in control of the DO – your DO can’t be that you want little Jimmy (”the names have been changed to protect the innocent”) to be better behaved, or George to be more considerate – that’s a DO for little Jimmy, and George, respectively – that’s not your DO. You can’t change other people, you can only influence them… Also if your DO is something that you believe you should do, then it’s probably somebody else’s DO – why do you believe that you should do it? Is it your perception of what (or how) you believe that other people expect you to be, or do? Or do you really want it for yourself?

Now that you have a clear visualisation of your DO, you are already one step closer to it – you need to be able to see your target to be able to aim at it. Consider the analogy of a satellite-navigation system, (or sat-nav) – the more detailed the co-ordinates that you input, the closer that you will find yourself to your “final destination”, and the more accurately you can plot your route.

Let’s take “Big Ben” for example. If you were to type “London” into your hypothetical sat-nav, it would take some effort to find Big Ben, especially if you had never previously visited London, which, incidentally, comprises an area of 1 572km². Type in “Westminster”, and you would have a much greater chance of success. If, however, you were to type in the actual postcode of Big Ben (SW1A 0AA) you would find it extremely difficult not to emerge into the shadows of one of London’s most iconic landmarks. The more specific your destination, or target, the greater the chance of success in reaching it, and the more accurate your route.

What resources do you already have at your disposal to help you towards your DO? What additional resources do feel that you might need? In keeping with the “Big Ben” analogy, how will you get there? Bus? Car? Taxi? London Underground? You might perhaps need a train, or even a ‘plane just to get into London – or even the United Kingdom? And the latter would necessitate opening the can of worms associated with travel documents – passports, visas, and the like. All of these factors need to be incorporated into your action plan – your “how.” If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Benjamin Franklin.

Your DO is no different – the better that you plan and utilise your available – and required – resources, the more fruitful your outcome. You might even get to see Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Harrods or even Camden along the way! And that is by no means an exhaustive list. After all, who travels to London, just to see Big Ben? Enjoy the journey and the opportunities to see the sights along the way!

You may find it beneficial to seek the advice of people with a degree of specialist knowledge. If you get lost – or lose your GPS signal, for example, would you be more likely to ask a fellow tourist for directions, or a local? An “expert?” If you’re booking a holiday abroad, do you ask a knowledgeable travel agent to help plan the itinerary? Or at least conduct a degree of research yourself, before booking the holiday? The same applies if your DO is to increase your knowledge – or competence – in a particular field. If you want to grow, you not only need to share the knowledge you have with people, you also need to be comfortable in learning from others. Seek out someone who is doing what it is that you want to be doing, and learn from them…

Ask yourself how much do you want your DO? On a scale of 1-10? Is it a “should?” or is it a “must?” Is it your DO, or have you borrowed it from somebody else’s perceived expectations of you? Is it a “déjà vu” DO – one that you’ve been putting off for some time, and never got around to? One that regularly reappears, but you never take action on it? If so, why haven’t you taken action? What’s stopping you? How much do you really want it?

Now ask yourself:

“What will happen if I achieve it?”
“What won’t happen if I achieve it?”
“What will happen if I don’t achieve it?”
“What won’t happen if I don’t achieve it?”
Now take a few minutes to really think about what motivates you. “Are you pushed by your problems, or led by your dreams?” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

If your DO is a little overwhelming, that’s great! The best DO’s are ones that take you out of your comfort zone, and that challenge you into some form of action. After all, if you’re comfortable doing it, then where’s the challenge? And where’s the sense of satisfaction and achievement when you do achieve it? Many of us are perfectly comfortable with the position that we currently find ourselves in. If you’re comfortable with your bank balance, what’s driving you towards financial success? If you’re satisfied with a “B” grade, then why invest all the time and effort to strive for an “A?” If you’re genuinely happy in all aspects of your life, then just why are you reading this blog?

Step into your “stretch zone”… If your DO is simply too big, then break it down into bite-sized chunks, and approach it one step at a time. One of my personal favourites to emerge from The Coaching Academy was “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time…”

(Taken from my forthcoming book, “What DO You Think?)