Costs and Consequences – Ecology Check

Please do take the time to really consider each question carefully and fully. You will find brief notes on some of the questions below.

ecology check questionsWorth and Costs?

You may end up with more – or less – of something that matters to you. If less, include it as a cost in your calculations of the price you pay. Is it worth the price you have to pay? It may cost you in emotional as well as financial and material terms. Remember to consider things like your energy, effort, time, strain and inconvenience for you – and valued 3rd parties [friends, family, colleagues etc.] How would it be if you got what you thought you wanted, only to realise that it is more trouble than it’s worth?

Are all the resources [skills, creativity, energy, capital, relationships etc.] available to you in a timely and acceptable manner?

Beliefs, values and sense of Self.

In this context, consider beliefs as our guiding principles for what we do, influencing all our behaviours, connecting to our value systems and shaping our understanding of why things are possible – or impossible – for us. Beliefs are often assumptions based on our personal experience or “inherited” from others who influence us [family, friends, people we admire etc.]. Beliefs permeate our thoughts, what we say and what we do. Behaviour, what we do, is belief in action.

What if what you want seems to be in conflict with your values and beliefs? Be quite sure that you really own the values and beliefs – you live by them, after all. Adjust them until they are right for you. Only when they are truly yours, use them to guide you in what you want and what you will do.

Relationships

How will your proposed course of action affect you and your relationships with others [lasting or fleeting, profoundly valued or just necessary]? Your life in context of those around you, in fact.

What would you have to give up or take on?

It is almost certain that something, maybe lots of things, will be different when you get what you want. Perhaps what you have to give up means losing something – maybe something that you are well rid of – or that you regret the loss of. Does it detract from your chosen life style, relationships, and other factors that matter to you?

Perhaps what you have to take on means gaining something you relish – or maybe something you would rather not have.

What would NOT happen?

We have been concentrating a lot on what will happen if you get what you want. It is a good idea to check whether anything has “fallen by the wayside” – what will NOT happen – accidentally or deliberately.

Pay attention to your “gut feeling”.

You know if you have a “gut feeling“, an instinctive sense of some kind – and whether it is warning you against something – or letting you know just how very “right” this is for you. Attend to that “gut feeling”.

What’s stopping me, right now?

What stops me from having what I want, right now? This is a good question to finish with. It will help to ensure that you have considered all the things that matter to you – and may be a catalyst for your subsequent planning and doing!

Future Test.

Now may be a good time to do a quick “future test”. Having addressed the questions, you have a much better sense of quite what you want – and the potential consequences and costs.

Think to the future, for a moment.

In this potential future, when you have got your outcome, you are watching a TV interview with the future you. When the interviewer says to you: “I have a friend who would really like to succeed the way you have done. If they were your friend, what advice would you give them? What really made the difference for you? How did you go about it?” – what would you say?

If you find there are some question marks, just start considering how you might address them to a satisfactory conclusion. If you find that what you want makes good sense to you and your commitment to act is building momentum [or perhaps already there], you may find yourself ready to go ahead.

separatorI do this ‘ecology check’ for various reasons. Different questions are the most thought provoking depending on the circumstances and the matter in hand.

Reality Checking.

When working on creating a compelling outcome, these are the questions that I use for a reality check. The answers (revelations sometimes) may inspire me to adapt my desired outcome (dramatically or just a tweak). Checking out costs and consequences engages me in analytic thought, creating and testing out the viability of future scenarios and paying attention to my gut feelings. Is achieving my outcome accompanied by acceptable and desirable costs, time-frames, consequences and benefits?

Exploring Reluctance.

These questions are also invaluable to me at those times when I find myself stalling, reluctant to act, not moving forward with something I thought I really wanted to do. Do you ever find yourself really wanting something while, at the same time, reluctant to act, reluctant to actually do anything, to achieve it? Perhaps you have a sense that something’s wrong” or a suspicion that, maybe, there is an unacceptable price to pay or undesirable consequences associated with achieving what you want? An ecology check can do harm in these circumstances and could highlight what’s stopping me and then I can deal with that as I see fit.

Compelling Outcomes

Compelling: having a powerful and irresistible effect
Outcome: a conclusion reached through a process of logical thinking

compelling outcome mindmap.

Prime your mind.

Ask yourself: what do I want? Be specific. State positively – express whatever you are drawn towards, attracted to (NOT what you are wishing to avoid or trying to get away from).

  • What do I want?
  • What do I want it to do?
  • Where do I want it?
  • When do I want it?
  • Who do I want it with?

Imagine what you want to achieve as vividly and completely as you can. Bring it alive in your mind. Engage all your senses. When you achieve this outcome, what will you see? what will you hear? what will you feel?

Write it down – in words and/or pictures and/or as a mind map – any way that works for you. Say it out loud – maybe, record and playback. Review it, refine it, polish it until you are happy with your creation.

Bringing it alive in your mind fuels your Reticular Activating System (RAS). Your RAS is a part of your brain that primes your subconscious mind to bring relevant information to your attention. Suitably primed, your subconscious will notice something that may be of interest to you, potential opportunities to further your desire, and make you aware. You choose what to do with that information, obviously.

Elucidate: make clear
Validate: prove, confirm, verify, substantiate

Validate and Elucidate – ask yourself:

Do I have all the resources (tangible and intangible) that I need and/or can I get them? Resources to think about include:

  • knowledge
  • beliefs
  • time
  • money
  • things
  • people
  • role models (including yourself)

Is it achievable? If it can be done, I can do it.

How will I know that I’ve achieved my outcome? What will my evidence of achievement look like, sound like, feel like? What are my measures of success?

Will it be worth it in terms of:

  • time
  • effort
  • relationships
  • consequences

Is it in my control? Can I authorise or arrange everything I need? Are others involved? Can I establish a win-win?

Ecology check – if I could have it now, would I take it? For a thorough ecology check (is it right for me) please take a look at the notes in “Costs and Consequences – Ecology Check“. This will also help to intensify your inner sense of what you want (making it even more compelling).

separatorQuite a few years ago, an acquaintance recommended a weekend’s ‘Introduction to NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). One of the things that NLP talks about is a ‘Well Formed Outcome’. I have to admit, the very words ‘Well Formed’ (accurate, but dull) did not inspire me, at all. Then, the NLP expert used the phrase ‘Compelling Outcome’ – and that lit my fire!

I use compelling outcomes to free my mind, gain clarity and validate intentions and expectations. A compelling outcome is a fun, engaging, thought provoking and effective way to, prime my mind, get clarity on intentions and check things out before I throw myself into something.

I think of a compelling outcome as a scene setter, closer to a movie trailer (not the full movie).  I am not simply watching the movie trailer – I am in it, centre stage, the main character. Every time I rehears/replay my part, I gain a little more insight and add substance. As a trailer, it has all the drama, excitement, milestones and story line. It provides a baseline to measure against – things to tick off as you move along (and I do love ‘the power of the tick’).

For me, a compelling outcome lights a beckoning beacon for the matter in hand. I am drawn towards achieving it. It sets the scene. It engages my RAS so that my subconscious will bubble up things to me when my conscious attention is elsewhere. Handy, that, don’t you think?

To capture the vividness of a compelling outcome I favour using mind maps (thought provoking and easy to draw … and redraw … and reshape). Armed now with a cheap voice recorder, I fancy I’ll also take to saying it out loud and playing it back. During the process of mapping or speaking, I can feel my hesitation, the unknowns clamouring for my attention, the train of thought invoked and so on. These techniques help me to capture my key thoughts relatively easily (and during the process, it doesn’t matter if there are blanks – I can fill them in on the next iteration). Glancing at my captured key points on the mind map, or listening to what I cared to have said, triggers my mind to replay my compelling outcome movie trailer – or its latest revision. I can replay and edit that trailer any time I choose, obviously.

Sometimes, even when I have primed my mind with a vivid outcome, I may find that, well, nothing happens. I find that I am reluctant to act. Quite often, this can be because I was a bit, well, lazy with the “elucidate and validate”. I think that may be because I fear that such disciplined thinking may tarnish my lovely, vivid movie trailer. OK, I know that’s stupid, but I think it may be the truth. When caught up in this situation, I have a go at the “Costs and Consequences – Ecology Check” to try to reveal what’s behind my inaction – what’s stopping me.

When I pay attention to creating, defining the most vivid of compelling outcomes then, somehow, it oils the wheels of my making it happen in reality.

The Power of Yet

The Power of Yet icon

Here we are talking about the word ‘yet’ in the sense of ‘up until now’ or ‘so far’.

If there is something that you have tried to achieve but have failed at and, maybe, even given up on, then I encourage you to give the ‘power of yet’ a try. Whatever you’re thinking that you can’t do, or have failed at, simply rephrase using the word ‘yet’ – and notice the difference in your  thinking.

To illustrate:

  • “I have failed my exam!” This sounds so final, over and done with. ‘Failed’ is such a harsh
    and mocking word.
  • “I haven’t passed my exam, yet.” It doesn’t change the fact that I failed the exam. Some may think that I am just playing with words – but I am not. Using the word ‘yet’ makes a real difference to how I feel about it and what I will do about it.

The power of the little word “yet” should not be underestimated! Using the word ‘yet’:

  • kicks your brain in to a puzzle solving mode. Your thinking can go something like “Well, I may not have succeeded so far, so what else do I need to do to achieve it in the future?
  • leaves the door open to future possibilities
  • creates greater persistence
  • encourages a growth mindset so that you may find a way to succeed
  • provides a positive context  for you to engage with the matter in hand

separatorI have been taking advantage of the power of ‘yet’ for a long time now. Whenever I come up against something that I think (maybe even believe) that I can’t do, big or small, profound or trivial, I simply add the word “yet” to the end of the statement. To illustrate:

  • “I can’t do that dance!” Sounds final, doesn’t it?
  • “I can’t do that dance, yet.” My expectation moves towards the possibility that someday, one day, I may be able to do it. What do you reckon?

Why not try out a bit of ‘The Power of Yet’ for yourself. I hope it works for you as powerfully as it works for me.

You may be interested in taking a look at a brief TED talk – Carol Dweck: The power of believing that you can improve  that talks about the growth mindset and includes a powerful illustration of the power of yet.