Andrew Peacock (Glasgow, UK) Over the years, I've read many a book on goal-setting and achievement. I started many years ago with the obligatory `Think and Grow Rich', avoided Anthony Robbin's `Unlimited Power' because it looked `too American', floundered around some more in the Positive Mental Attitude books, and came back to Anthony Robbins in desperation. I was seeking something practical and effective, to help me manage my life, as I was having problems due to giving up a well-paid job to study full-time. At that point, I was hooked on NLP.
However, if I had read Wishcraft, I might have bypassed Anthony Robbins altogether, and would not be where I am today (such at it is
) Why? Because this book provides everything I was looking for in a book at that time.
It is split into two broad sections: the first helps you to answer the question \"What are my goals?\"; the second, \"How do I achieve them?\". The first section contains a number of fairly standard exercises to help you brainstorm your goals. If you are new to the idea of goal-setting, this is a great place to start; however, if you have done many exercises in goal-setting, then most of these exercises will be familiar. However, I suspect that most people will find something of use here, no matter how well- read they are.
The second section is where the book comes into its own. The author outlines a number of tools and methods to help you be successful once you know what your goals are. Some of them are to do with planning, some to do with emotions and managing your state, some are to do with getting the help of others.
The planning model is the best I've come across, and I've done some formal training on planning in a corporate environment. It doesn't cover complex ideas like GANT charts, critical-path analysis, and so on, but it does provide a simple, workable, and effective method of setting out what you'll actually need to do to reach your goal. And it all boils down to two simple questions ..... Can I do this tomorrow? If not, what do I need to do first?
Keep going through those two questions, and you'll end up with a plan consisting of achievable steps that you can do in a day, rather than huge steps which take days or weeks to accomplish. One of the difficulties that many people experience with tasks of this size is due to lack of specificity; breaking the task down into smaller ones helps to make it more `real' and hence easier to get started on and to acccomplish.
However, in any planning model, particularly where you are venturing out into uncharted territory, there will be some points in your plan where you simply do not know what steps are required - if you are familiar with the idea of unconscious incompetence, then you'll know what I mean. (If not, take a quick look at the article below). Again, using one simple idea, the author helps you to overcome those problems, based on the idea that if you can't do something, then you know someone who can, or you know someone who knows someone who can, or you know someone who knows someone who...
They call the idea `barnraising', from the idea in certain communities where each person helps the others build their barn, and then receive help from each person in building their own barn. They suggest getting all your friends, family, and colleagues together; tell them EXPLICITLY what you want; and see how they can help. At the same time, help them with their goals or plans. Whilst not a new idea, the authors go out of their way to tell you that you don't have to do everything by yourself, and then give you a framework in which to work with others to achieve your mutual goals. Anyone familiar with Stephen Covey's Seven Habits will immediately recognize the win/win situation.
Where this ties in nicely with NLP is the `explicit' part: the meta-model is the ideal tool here for: A) defining what you need B) clarifying exactly what help others can provide C) helping others define what they need.
The author also provides two questions that will help if you encounter a problem in the form of `I can't do/have X until I have/do Y' The two questions are:
How can I get X without having/doing Y? How can I get/do Y?
Later, the book covers some basic time management skills, and some general strategies for dealing with fear, including one called `Lower Your Standards - at First'. The latter goes against many positive thinking-type books by saying if your goals are too far beyond your current beliefs about what you can do, you will most likely be afraid. The way to reduce your fear is to aim to do things badly, then there is no problem if you do actually do them badly. Then, when you've got some experience under your belt, you will be in a position to set realistic, challenging, and achievable goals.
The comments I've written here sound fairly mundane - I'm not one to rant and rave over a book. One of the biggest complements that I can give a book is to say that I will never throw it away, and I will read it at least once per year without fail. I've had this book for about 4 years now, and I've read it 5-6 times, and I will never throw it away (at least, I might, but only to replace it with a less dog-eared copy). Its simplicity, elegance, and plain- talking, combined with sold, practical advice, make it one of my favourite books.
Kelly L. Norman I truly love this little book. I was originally introduced to it years ago when I was not sure I wanted to stay in mental health, and a mentor suggested I check it out. I found the exercises a blast and very original. My favorite: the one in which Sher suggests you play a spy in your own house or apartment, taking notes on what \"the occupant\" wears, how they decorate, etc.,in order to find out more about them. These tasks were just as good at increasing my own self awareness as finding career direction. They also reminded me of things I loved or wanted that I hadn't had the chance to do or missed doing....such as living in the town I wanted, getting a particular degree, community theatre, and musical performance.
Interestingly, I remained in mental health, but with a higher degree, working in a different area, and with changes in other things in my life that were important to me. The book was a big factor, though not the only one, in that choice. I'm still glad I made it.
One very practical suggestion in the book is, if you can't have all of what you want right away, get as much of what you want as you can. If you can't afford a trip to Paris yet, put a picture of the Eiffel tower up in the living room and play Edith Piaf music and keep saving. In my case, I wanted to move to a town 100 miles away; so I started spending weekends there, or even taking day trips to shop there or attend seminars at the university.
Sher includes a fairly elaborate time management system. It consists of flow charts,to-do lists, a bulletin board, and pictures of sort of a cheerleading family she encourages you to formulate from characters you admire and believe would understand and be supportive of you (this can be anyone, dead or alive...Einstein & Paul McCartney adorned my board! Hokey, I know, but I found it helpful).
And this is my one complaint. Barbara never upgraded. I kept on hoping to see an edition which incorporated Outlook or Palm Pilot or something like that, or even its own software, but that hasn't happened. She does have a webpage, but the only thing of interest there is a message board in which members share their experiences and she announces appearances. Since I now organize online, it's hard when I want a \"review\" of some of these exercises...or even when I want to go back to my original plans....to get excited about tacking up paper on a bulletin board.
Nevertheless, I do go back and do the odd exercise now & again, not because I'm dissatisfied with my life, but because there are other plans that have popped up, such as new hobbies and relationships. I also have had to purchase a new copy once in a while because I'm frequently giving mine away to younger relatives or clients. I would recommend the book...not to stake your life on, but as an amusing & user friendly means of self-discovery, and a way to either confirm your life choices, or to help you get the gumption to put on the brakes if you need to.