Have you ever wondered why you set your goals differently from those around you, or wondered why it is that two friends can have such different ways of thinking about their futures?
From the world of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) say hello to the meta-program. No, these are not crazy programs that turn your into a robot, but are drives that underlie different behaviours. See if you can identify the way your drives affect your goal setting:
Do you go by internal or external reference?
Internally-referencing people have a personal set of criteria for what they think is good. They judge their world through those criteria and arrive at their decisions independently.
Externally-referencing people have a tendency to ask others for their opinions about things in order to inform their decisions.
You’ll often find that internally-referencing person tend to receive compliments with ill grace. At the best, such compliments are irrelevant and at the worst they seem a little irritating. So, the pep talk for the internal-referencer tends to fall on deaf ears. Meanwhile, the external referencer is heartened or disheartened in equal measure by positive or negative inputs.
When you’re setting you goal, do you just decide in your own mind what it is that you want to achieve and go with that? Or do you take advice about which way to go, and what’s the right way forward for you? This may well be because of your internal / external reference bias.
Are you a large chunk size or a small chunk size person?
People tend to think in what are called “chunk sizes”. Big picture people think in large chunk sizes and tend to focus first on the overview of what they’re doing, often then delegating or getting help with smaller details.
Not surprisingly, the small chunk size person tends to focus on the details, and have less of a sense of the bigger picture.
You can spot these different types in the ways they answer questions like: “What’s the film about?” Small chunk size people will say: “Well, this guy gets a new job in a school, and while he’s there he meets a woman. She doesn’t like him at first…” and so on, whereas the large chunk size person will simply say: “It’s a love story!”
Goal setting follows the same pattern. Very often the big chunk size person will need advice from others to get that super-sized big picture filled in with all the steps along the way. The small chunk size person may struggle past the detail to get to what they really want. Neither is right or wrong, but knowing your predilection will help you recognise what else you need to get it done!
Toward / away from
Away-from people will often express their outcomes in “don’t wants”. So, if they’re looking for a new job and they’re asked what they want, they’ll answer: “I don’t want to be so busy all the time”, or “I don’t want to be poor,” or “I don’t want to be working so far away.” Of course, none of these answer the question of what they do want, and that makes positive goal setting difficult, because not knowing where they are going means they have no direction.
Toward people know exactly what they want, and have a can-do attitude that helps them pursue their goals without hindrance. Sometimes, though, without a little away-from thinking they may not have the impetus to move – so a great combination is to know what you don’t want – ie: what you’ve got now – and know what you do want – your goal in the future.
If you’re stuck in away-from thinking, your goals may be difficult to go identify. Try this: once you get an “I don’t want” answer to a question – like, “I don’t want to be poor,” ask yourself “what will that give me?” until eventually you run out of negatives and you have to answer in a positive. That, then, is your goal.
The perfectionist / pragmatist
The perfectionist planner might well set out a fantastic goal, and organise for themselves every stop along the way. Then, once they start on their journey, they feel they have failed or need to start again because something that’s happened didn’t fit in with their plan.
The pragmatist incorporates the change and asks herself, “does this fit in with the overall direction I’m heading?”
For the perfectionist, obviously, it’s great to set yourself high standards, but it’s also worth asking the question “Is this set of impossibly high standards actually the best approach to the task?” If it’s not, then it’s time to change the way you approach things.
For the pragmatist, if they become too relaxed, they will start to lose sight of their goal. So, look out for which one you might be. Planning and setting goals should be realistic and knowing that while you keep your goal in mind things can change – because that’s the nature of life – will help you achieve so much more!