What Do You Really Want?

 Why Aim For The Stars...

....when there are footprints on the moon?  

Have you heard anyone say that? I hadn’t until one of the hapless contestants on the TV programme, The Apprentice said it.

“Why aim for the stars when there are footprints on the moon”

 What do you think? Is it a good thing to believe? Is it motivating to you? Does it make you laugh perhaps? 

I must admit, I did indeed laugh, but I think that was the way the it was delivered by the contestant more than the content of the affirmation. Then I thought, OK, that’s fine, it’s quite a nice thing to say, and if it’s motivating to you, then great - say what you need to say!

 I have since heard lots of people using the phrase and I started to wonder what it actually meant to them. So just for fun, I conducted some research - I love a bit of research! And you know, everybody I spoke to said more or less the same thing, the conversations went something like this....

 “Why aim for the stars when there are footprints on the moon” - what do you describe this as - and affirmation, a saying, a motto, motivational saying,  or something else?

“It’s something I say to motivate me, a motto, sometimes I say it several times so  I guess it can be an affirmation”

“What are you motivating yourself to do?”

“To be better”

 "At what”

‘’At what I want to do”

 “What do you want to do?”

“Well, be better and achieve more” “More what?”

“Umm....., I don’t know, I just want to be better and saying that helps”

 It’s a really wonderful thing to want to improve some aspect of your life, and finding ways to help motivate yourself can be really useful. First though, isn’t it a good idea to decide what you really do want? If you don’t have a clear idea of what you want, how do you know when you’ve got it. Without direction or an end point you could easily find yourself wandering about, going up and down blind alleys and never actually getting anywhere.

You could even find yourself using this lack of direction as an excuse when things don’t work out as well as you hoped -  “Oh well, that was what I meant to do”

So, how do you decide what you do want? In therapy, we call this making a Well Formed Outcome. 

Step One: What do you want

Take your time on this,  for example, perhaps you want a better job. Get some paper or fire up your laptop and list exactly what you mean by a better job. Does a better job for you mean more money, if so how much, does it mean a better work life balance, a new location, a new profession, more status, less status, company car, self employment, training. Really interrogate the idea, be your own detective and take as long as you need to get your answer.

Step Two: What do I have to do

What will you have to do to achieve this?, Once again, take your time on your list. You can make your list in two ways, you can start at the top with your well formed outcome and work down, listing all the steps you need to make to achieve your this outcome, in NLP we call this Chunking Down. Or you can start at the bottom and work up - Chunking Up. Make these chunks as big or small as you need. I like fine detail so when I do this I prefer to chunk up in quite small chunks, do what suits you best. However you chose to do your list, be sure to include everything you will need to do to achieve your outcome. 

Step Three: Take Action

Make a time plan to help keep you on track -  and then go and do it! 

Step Four: Review Along The Way

Using your time plan, make regular reviews, check how you’er doing on the way matching the steps you listed to achieve your outcome. If something is not working - change it! Don’t keep on doing the same old thing and expect a different outcome.


What do you think about that saying now? What does it actually say? 

 Why aim for the stars..........?  Ask instead “Why am I aiming for the stars, what’s there for me,  how will I get there, what do I need to do, how long will it take me, do I need to change my route, how will I know I have arrived”

 “.....when there are footprints on the moon.” Ask, “what does that mean? has someone beaten me to it, should I aim for something else? Is it actually possible to get there? Why does no-one live on the moon? Is this really a well formed outcome?”

It’s quite simple really isn’t it? When you know what you want, it’s so much easier to get!

Are there any other sayings that you know of which can be broken down like this? Do they still mean the same? What sayings or affirmations have you found useful - (or useless!) Do let me know what you think.








Tags: Well Formed Outcomes, NLP Chunking

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