The Power of Outcome Thinking Personal Management The Compound Effect

Another helpful tool gleaned from David Allen’s productivity book Getting Things Done is the practice of outcome thinking.  Outcome thinking fits with Stephen Covey’s advice of “beginning with the end in mind”. Knowing where you want to go and the results you want to achieve is the starting place for any successful endeavor.

How David Allen’s outcome thinking stands apart is its place in his Natural Planning Process.  It comes after you have defined your purpose and principles and before the brainstorming session.

Natural Planning Process:

  • Define your purpose and principles
  • Visualize desired outcome: Outcome Thinking
  • Brainstorm
  • Organize
  • Identify next actions

The Natural Planning Process is worthy of study, but today we will focus on Outcome Thinking, as David Allen has expanded on this idea in his online seminars since writing Getting Things Done.

Let’s examine:

  • The power of focus
  • How to write an outcome statement

The power of focus: Allen says his whole system is about focus. Focus on the right thing at the right time to get the right results. Here are some key take-aways he makes about focus:

  • Information is available all the time. Are you dialed in? Notice what you are noticing. You see and hear what you are dialed in to. The music is not in the radio!
  • You don’t need any more creativity or intelligence than you already have. You just need to change your focus.  That’s great news, my friend!
  • You cannot define a project until you know the outcome you desire.
  • You won’t see how to do it until you see yourself doing it in your mind.
  • Your first thoughts about your project should be “wild success”. There is a fine line between crazy and genius, but you must start with seeing wild success in your mind. What would wild success look like? It should be 51% believable!
  • Do not focus on HOW you will do it yet. That will come later. For now, just dream!

The purpose is to get a clear picture of your goals, which helps you to structure your decisions to get you there. Your subconscious will pick up on things you would’ve normally missed, and help you get the results you want.

How to write an outcome statement:

  • State it in the positive “I am…” is better than “I need to stop….”
  • Measurable results You need to track progress and direction
  • Fully visualize it with your senses When visualizing, truly “experience it”
  • Can only be about you, not other people  Their own wills override your vision. You can only control yourself.
  • Must be 51% believable this will ground you with the logic of “this is possible”.

Write your outcome statement and post it where you will see it often. Think about it at least twice a day. Train your subconscious to be programmed to help you complete the project.

Remember, anything that exists was first a thought! What will you visualize into reality?

-Jan Jones

Check out this sample of David Allen’s live seminar on Outcome Thinking!