Setting Achievable Outcomes



The 5 Stage Success Model

The following five-stage model underpins all effective–learning:

  1. Decide where you are now.
  2. Decide what you want.
  3. Do something.
  4. Notice what happens.
  5. Change what you do until you get your desired outcome.

How to set Achievable Outcomes

You may have come across the SMART approach to setting objectives:


But the SMART model only tells part of the story. For really effective objective (outcome) setting we need to follow the six elements of a well-formed outcome:

1. State Your Goal Positively

State what you want – make it positive. The unconscious mind does not process negatives easily

  • Don’t think of a blue elephant
  • Don’t worry
  • Don’t think of the competition

The point is that at ‘First Access’ there is no negation! The brain actually works in such a way that stating a goal in negative terms can have completely the wrong effect. Unfortunately, when it comes to outcome-achieving, the instinctive internal negative image can do its damage before you apply the negative injunction. So the golfer who thinks about the obstacles (the tree, the bunker) tends to produce what his or her mind imagines. He carries out the ‘mind instruction’ and the ball succeeds in landing in the bunker or hitting the tree.

2. Put Your Goal in Context

Your outcome has to register as realistic. You cannot kid your outcome-achieving mind with vague abstractions or hazy images. Moreover, seeing, hearing and feeling does not happen in a vacuum, but in some context. If unsure about context, just apply the ‘w’ questions to your outcome.

  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Who?

Imagine or ‘mentally rehearse’ each as you answer. You may find you don’t want a certain outcome in a certain situation

3. Express Your Goal in Specific, Sensory Terms

What, specifically, will you see, hear and feel when you actually achieve this outcome? Put yourself into the future and enjoy your fulfilled outcome. Your future history!

Everything created in the world around us started as a thought in somebody’s mind”


4. Choose an Outcome You Can Fulfil Yourself

You need to initiate and maintain your outcome yourself. You should take 100% responsibility for your success or ‘failure’. Remember that there is no failure only feedback! People and circumstances often seem to dictate what actually happens, of course, and we may sometimes feel little pawns in a bigger game that we have little control over. A real achiever, nevertheless, takes responsibility for his or her go and does not depend on other people. Sometimes you will meet borderline situations. A manager, for instance, depends on other people to fulfil many outcomes. As we know, managers have to delegate in larger organisations. Does that mean that such work outcomes fail the test? Not necessarily. As long as you can influence the outcome, even indirectly, by virtue of your position, knowledge or resources, you can take it as your own outcome.

5. Evaluate the Effects of Achieving Your Outcome

To what extent will you either ignore or affect other people’s outcomes for the sake of your own? If the new outcome replaces or exceeds all the positive aspects of your present state, fine. If not, do some rethinking before you embark on your outcome, rather than after your world (and perhaps the world of others) has fallen’ apart.

6. Choose a Worthwhile Outcome

To apply this rule, you need to identify the positive consequences of your outcome. Does it fit with your personal values? Mentally rehearse both benefits and the downsides of your outcome and consequences.

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