After looking at the Wheel of Life, the next step is to look at the Well-Formed Outcomes (AKA Setting Cues). Well-formed outcomes are a lot like goals, but there are a few subtle, yet important differences.
In it’s essence, a well-formed outcome is a process-based goal. It looks at the overarching goal the student must achieve–for instance, getting better grades–and looks specifically at the processes the student needs to undertake in order to achieve that goal. The idea is for the student to focus all their energy on developing the habits and actions that will lead them to their goal.
In the coach’s notes, he or she will put a couple of the well-formed outcomes they have conjured up with your child. As for the Academic Life Coaching program, your coach and child have discussed ways that you, as a parent, can best support your child. The Academic Life Coaching program is designed to work in concert with you in ways to help your child to take a more proactive role in their own life. Ultimately, this will offer them a greater sense of responsibility. Part of the benefit of them taking a proactive role in their life, is they will shift their point-of-view into how you can best support them in their goals, rather than having you set goals and them thinking they have to work against you.
We’ve found that one of the best ways parents can support their child is by completing this activity and sparking conversation about it. You can go ahead and create your own well-formed outcomes, using your Wheel of Life as a starting point. Pick one area from the Wheel of Life, and ask yourself, “What simple action can I do to take my level of satisfaction just one step higher?” Then create a well-formed outcome to achieve in the next two weeks.
Notice in the prompts that follow the workbook section we talk about structure. The structure is merely something you have that reminds you how to follow through. Your child’s coach will probably have created a few structures of values in the Academic Life Coaching program. You can create your own structures that work. Share them with your child and explain how they’re going to work for you.
Goals are Overrated!
When people think about Life Coaching and improving their life, goals is one of the first words that comes to mind. “You need to have some goals,” is said too often. On the one hand, having goals are great. But unfortunately, the word goal is overused. The concept of having ‘SMART’ goals gets closer to being useful, but the whole process of setting goals and then trying really hard to get them (often doing the same actions just harder) usually leads to frustration.
The Virtue of a Well-Formed Outcome (similar to a goal, but 4 times more useful)
Instead of creating goals, it’s much more effective to think in terms of creating a system that leads to an outcome. The well-formed part of a well-formed outcome refers to the characteristics of the end result that help focus the mind and attention in a way that boosts natural, intrinsic motivation. It will help you learn the valuable skill of moving forward when you most need to move.
The outcome part of a well-formed outcome refers to thinking in terms of systems, not simply in terms of effort and reward. Outcomes can happen naturally, sometimes with little or no effort. (Goals always require effort.) Outcomes are usually part of a system. If you can learn to create systems that work effectively, you will be astonished at how much you can achieve.
A well-formed outcome meets these criteria:
1) Stated in the positive
2) Getting started and the success (or failure) of the outcome depends entirely on you
3) It has a good size to time ratio that moves you into action and keeps you moving at a comfortable pace
4) It is specific and measurable
The biggest virtue of the well-formed outcome is that they empower you with full control of the success or failure of the outcome. So much of our lives falls outside our control. Most goals involve a high degree of stuff that needs to happen that also fall outside our control. For example, it’s impossible to control the grade that you may get on an essay. Yet so many students have a goal to get good grades.
A well-formed outcome, on the other hand, will focus you on the actual process of writing your paper effectively and in a way that produces their best work. Learning is to turn their attention inward and focus on what you can control in your life and to follow through on that action, which is one of most valuable skills young people can acquire. The concept of a well-formed outcome helps students learn – and practice – that crucial skill.
Achieving any of these well-formed outcomes doesn’t automatically mean that you will get all A’s, avoid bad grades and being yelled at by your parents. However, following through on the outcomes over time does make a big difference in your self-confidence, ability to create new habits, and eventually the results that you will get.
I often see students who start to apply the concept of a well-formed outcome, take the outcome and incorporate into their life so fully that they forget that they even set it as an outcome weeks ago. The well-formed outcome has become a habit, and they are off to creating the next outcome and system.
Throughout the Academic Life Coaching Program, you’ll create many well-formed outcomes with your coach, and being able to create and set them for yourself is a crucial skill to being fulfilled and effective.
Now it’s time for you to write out some of your own well-formed outcomes with the help of your coach.