NLP Goal Setting: Should Obstacles Be Considered?

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NLP has one official tool for goal setting called “Well Formed Outcomes” (taught in the NLP Practitioner course). We teach an additional way of goal setting in our class, either for those who are vague as to what the steps towards their goals are, or as a superior way to light up the pathway.
We got an excellent question in the other day, as a part of our post-course support that comes with our NLP courses.
“Because associating the brain into achieving goals and into the desired future is so effective, should you imagine obstacles to mitigate risks?”
Here are reasons why I, as an NLP Trainer, am an advocate of doing so:

NLP Should Not Be Mistaken with Fool-heartedness
Yes, in some NLP seminars some NLP trainers or motivators want to make everything positive. Where we are to manifest the positive future, and pretend we already achieved it. I have yet to meet that enchanted person in real life, one who reached extremely complicated goals, without any setback whatsoever, and ended up with a sense of learning and pride in the process. Unfortunately, NLP disagrees with you, as does science. If we think all of our goals are going to be roses and sunshine, we are kidding ourselves, and no person in your world will or should buy that fantasy when you are trying to sell it to them.

NLP Well Formed Outcome Process
When you look at the original, full NLP Well Formed Outcome process (some NLP schools teach a watered-down version), you will notice that the question of obstacles in goal settings is asked for, to then determine what resources you have in order to complete this goal (and through that overcome the obstacles). It flips from asking for the difficulties that could happen, to then re-direct via overcoming, seeing the benefits, accessing resources, determining that it is worth what it takes to get there, and then the first step. Negative, overcome/mitigate obstacles, then positive is the trajectory.

Scientific Research
Extensive research has been done on goal setting (G. Oettingen, PhD and others) where control groups were tested to investigate favorable ways of goal setting using the science of positive psychology. Goal setting tools were tested both with and without mentioning obstacles. The outcome was that introducing the obstacles did allow for some planning to occur as part of the process regarding what resources need to be engaged to overcome them. Before a positive leap (NLP Future Pace) is made into the future. People who do consider the obstacles and how to mitigate them have a better process, following which makes it much more likely to reach the goal. However, the condition is that also the rest of the goal setting tool set is well organized and positive.

In that sense, the well-formed outcome process taught inside NLP Practitioner is supported by science.

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