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PRACTICAL GOAL SETTING

PRACTICAL GOAL SETTING or PLAYING WITH YOUR RAS

I'll not bore you with the details or claim to be an expert in the area but there is a part of your body that you should be particularly interested in 'your RAS.

This is your Reticular Activating System which is located in the upper brain stem and continues into the lower part of the cerebral cortex.

I do know that the brain is in my head somewhere and not some other part of my body which was often suggested when I was younger!

So why is your RAS important to goal setting? Well your RAS can be considered as a 'watchdog' that arouses the cortex of the brain when relevant sensory information needs to be acted upon. We set goals with the intention of achieving them so it seems reasonable that we might need to act to take advantage of something that might help us achieve our goal.

Remember the arcade game in the 80's called Frogger (an appropriate metaphor as the RAS is believed to be part of our reptilian brain!). The GOAL of the game was to get to the other side of the road, using lily pads to make progress across the river and to avoid transport on the roads. Whilst we knew the objective we could not plan the route in advance 'we had to react to the opportunity of lilies and the potential misfortune of lorries and cars as we progressed towards our goal.

Programming our RAS is a set-it and forget-it approach to achieving goals. If our RAS knows what to look for it will prompt us into action when an event that will lead us to our goal passes through our awareness. Hey 'getting things done doesn't have to be a slog anymore!.

I use three techniques to get my clients well on the way to achieving their goals:

1. Thinking Outcomes 2. SMART Goals 3. Time line

To think outcomes use the following translation table to get out of problem frame thinking. A problem frame is the unproductive 'worry' place that we can often find ourselves.

Click here for the Problem Frame vs. Outcome Frame table.

When firmly in an outcome frame start putting together SMART goals. A SMART goal is a goal that is the following:

1. Specific and Simple 2. Measurable and Meaningful 3. Achievable and worded as-if now 4. Realistic and responsible/ecological 5. Timed and towards what you want

In determining the SMART goal be clear that there are no reasons for sticking with what you have. In NLP we call these +ve by products and they will scupper your plans if you do not work with them.

An example of your SMART goal might be:

"It is July 2006 and I am meeting with potential partners with a view to them reselling my product. They are interested and keen to understand more and I am confident with the answers that I provide"

Now break the end goal down into less than 6 smaller intermediate goals that you will achieve along the way. Word all these as SMART goals. Write them and the end goal down on separate sheets of paper.

For me this is the powerful bit. Lay down a line on the floor (in your imagination or a physical marker such as string or tape measure) that represents time and place each of your goals on the line with the end goal the furthest away.

Now walk your future. Visit each of the goals one by one. Take time to fully experience having them 'question what you will see, hear and feel. Look at how close the next step is. Take a look back at the progress you have made 'revel in the achievement 'notice how good it feels.

Keep walking up and down your line and know that each time you do so you train your RAS to know the things that are important to you so that it can call you into action when an opportunity for progress comes by.

Refresh this every now and then by all means and in particular run through it before you go to bed. AND trust that one of your most basic parts of your body is going to take care of your future for you.

Have fun in getting what you want!

About the author:
Mark Spall is a Coach and Leadership trainer and delivers his materials through a variety of innovative mediums. More on Mark can be found at www.markspall.co.uk . Mark is the founder of the Agile Leader Network (www.agile-leader.com ), a knowledge base and support network for young people who wish to achieve their best in their care


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