Outcome Thinking or Outcome Language is a way to think in terms of what you want, instead of what you don't want. It is a common experience for coaches to find that when asked people what they want, people talk in terms of what they don't want, rather than what they want. It is basically not a resourceful state to engage in.

The goals that you set through Outcome Thinking are called Well Formed Outcomes.

The Outcome Thinking Checklist

  • Ensure that your outcome language is expressed in the Present tense.
  • Ensure that your well formed outcome is expressed in all the five senses: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Olfactory, Gustatory.
  • Ensure that your well formed outcome is not a process / step enroute...it is an end result.
  • Ensure that it does not lead to a win-lose situation, instead it leads to a win+win situation.
  • Ensure that your well formed outcome is self maintained... it is about your part in the system, is does not require others to change, or it is not about others's part in your system.
  • Your goal has a higher purpose. It is aligned with a higher purpose.
  • It fits with who you are. It fits with your identity.
  • Also ensure that
    • You get the same payoff you are getting from the current state.
    • You are ready to pay the price.
    • You are committed to the specific next step.

The Shoulds, Musts and Have Tos of Life

It is common to see how many people describe many of their goals in terms of "I have to...", "Next time I should...", "I must...". Instead of their goals inspiring them, their goals become rules which leave their Life shallow and they feel hollow inside. It is not necessary.

When we describe something we are truly motivated to do, we use the language of "want". We think "I want to...". (See Transformational Vocabulary)

SMART goals Vs. Someday goals

The lack of specificity or more correctly SMARTness (specificity, measurablitity, achievability, Realistic, Time bound) in goals makes our goals general, vague and out of reach. With the presence of SMARTness, the goals become more tangible and within our grasp. There is a lot of difference between thinking "I want money" and "I want so and so amount in the bank balance within this year".

The opposite of SMART goals is Someday goals. You would push your goals to some day in the future, which indicates you are never going to achieve it.

"Someday, I would have my own car"
"Someday, I would start my own company"

If you are unable to achieve in your Life, then you have plenty of Someday goals. The remedy to Someday goals is Dickens Pattern.

If you say that you are going to do it "some other day", you will never do it.

Where Not to Go Vs. Where to Go (Problem State Vs. Desired State)

Many times we tell others where not to go, without giving them a direction of where to go. We tell people "not to get stressed", instead of asking them to "calm down". It is not just in the words we use. We may give a lecture of how bad the country is and what direction the civilization is moving towards, without talking about what direction it can move and need to move. This focus on Where Not to Go is harmful and can lead us to unresourceful states.

Much of the news in the current world is on "highlighting the problems" describing the problem state without describing the desired state. While it is important to become aware of the problems, exclusive focus on the problems is not going to be helpful without focusing on the desired state.

Exclusive Focus on Problems

The exclusive focus on problem state without considering the desired state is harmful in every way. This is especially noticeable when people give feedback. They tell others in detail what not to do and limit the what to do within few sentences. A typical lecture to a child focuses on the Where Not to Go part for around half an hour with the Where To Go part minimized to a mere few minutes.

The Absence of Flow in Desired State

People can talk about their problems for a long enough time while if you ask them about what they want they speak two to three sentences and stop abruptly. This inability to flow in the desired state, is a typical symptom of Problem Thinking, the opposite of Outcome Thinking.

(The Transcript of an audio tutorial for outcome thinking (developed by Thought Point) is available here).

Sufficient Goals

It is sufficient to have goals that suffice the needs of the target people. It is not necessary to be perfect.