Wish Brainstorming for Goal Setting
Wish brainstorming is a tool that can help you figure out what you really want.
Wishes are a simple way to capture things that you may need, desire or want without necessarily committing to doing them (learn more about the difference between wishes and goals.)
Because your wish list only represents things that you may want to pursue, it's easier to release any judgments about how/when you are going to do these things and focus instead on what you truly want.
Rather than trying to wish for everything that you want in all areas of your life, it is useful to focus on one result area at a time. Once you've brainstormed your wishes for this area, you can move on to another area.
Wish Brainstorming Guidelines
Brainstorming works best when you use questions to stimulate your thinking. You simply try to come up with as many answers to the questions as you can. It's simple because your mind is programmed from early childhood to answer questions.
As soon as you ask yourself a question, your brain will shift into high gear trying to come up with answers. All you have to do is listen for the answers, and write them down. You should try to write every thought that pops into your head, whether it looks like a good answer or not.
The key is to reserve all judgment, criticism and doubt until later. The first step in brainstorming is to generate as many ideas as you can without thinking about them. So go ahead and write down any crazy, silly, weird or seemingly useless ideas. The reason for this is that judgment, criticism and doubt block the stream of ideas and shut down the creative process.
If you get stuck at any point and can't come up with anything else, ask yourself the question again and wait for a few seconds. Repeat this a few times. If nothing comes, read a few of your answers. Reading your answers can often inspire related ideas or thoughts.
Wish Brainstorming Questions
Use the following questions to help you get started with your brainstorming session. Each set of questions is divided into one of four categories corresponding to the types of wishes that they help you think about.
Wish Type One - Want and Don't Have
The first wish type represents the things that you want and don't have. This is the most common type of wish and is based on a motivation toward things you want, desire or find pleasurable.
Use the following questions to brainstorm for things you want and don't have:
What would you wish for in this area of your life if you had unlimited financial resources?
What have you always wanted to do or accomplish in this area of your life but have never attempted? Because of lack of time? Money? Experience? Resources?
If you could have, do or be anything that you wanted in this area, what would you wish for?
What would you wish for in this area if you were absolutely confident that you could accomplish it?
What habits, skills, abilities or personality traits that you see in others would you like to develop?
What knowledge, experience or expertise would you like to gain in this area?
What would you like to learn? (Learn to speak Italian, Learn to cook, Learn about astronomy, Learn to Tango)
What positive traits or habits would you like to develop? (Be more patient, Be more confident, Manage my time better, Read more often)
These questions are designed to stimulate your thinking while removing common barriers such as fear and doubt.
Wish Type Two - Don't Want and Have
The second wish type represents the things you don't want and have. These could be things like an extra ten pounds, a lousy job, or a mean boss. This second wish type is useful because many people find it easier to list the things they don't want. This is based on a motivation away from things you dislike.
Use the following questions to brainstorm for things you don't want and have:
What would you like to change, remove or eliminate from your life? (Lose extra ten pounds, Change jobs, Less stress)
What bad habits or personality traits would you like to get rid off? (Stop interrupting people, Eat less junk food)
What do you currently have that you don't want in your life? (A mean boss, Too many demands)
Wish Type Three - Want and Have
The third wish type represents the things you want and have. Wishes of this type could represent things you want to appreciate or treasure more, good things in your life that you want to have more of, or things that you want to preserve.
Use the following questions to brainstorm for things you want and have:
What about this area of your life do you like and want more?
What do you enjoy doing but haven't done in a while?
What would you like to improve or enhance about yourself?
What are the blessings in your life that you would like to appreciate more?
What good things in this area of your life do you want to preserve and avoid neglecting?
Wish Type Four - Don't Want and Don't Have
The fourth wish type represents the things you don't want and don't have. Examples would be things like heart disease, bad health, financial problems, and other risks that you want to avoid.
Use the following questions to brainstorm for things you don't want and don't have:
What problems or pitfalls would you like to prevent?
What bad habits or negative traits would you like to avoid developing?
Turn the Negatives into Positives
While the "Don't Want and Have" and "Don't Want and Don't Have" wish types are useful during brainstorming to help you identify wishes, especially if your motivation style is away from things you dislike, they don't make good long term wishes.
In goal setting, it is always better to focus your attention on the things you want rather than on the things you don't want. A useful exercise is to convert all your negative wishes into one or more positive counterparts.
For example, if one of your "Don't Want and Have" wishes is to get rid of an extra ten pounds, you would convert this into a positive wish: "I weight a healthy XXX pounds," where XXX is your target weight.
Similarly, you can convert "Don't Want and Don't Have" wishes to their positive counterparts by wishing for things you can do to prevent or avoid these negative wishes from being realized.
Prioritize Your Wish List
Now that you've created your wish list, it is time to prioritize it based on what is most important to you.
A useful prioritizing tool is the ABCD method. In this method you prioritize wishes into one of four categories:
A's represent things you really want
B's represent things you want, but not as much as the As
C's represent things that are nice to have, but you don't necessarily want at this time
D's represent things you definitely don't want to pursue at this time
Why include the C's and D's in your wish list? Because you already went to all the trouble to think of them, you might as well write them down. You never know if you might want to change your mind later.
Once you've categorized the wishes, go over the A's and rank the top five to ten items (A1, A2, A3...) based on importance and urgency. Try to find the wish that you really want the most right now and make it your A1 priority. Then proceed to find the second one, and so forth.
Another way to prioritize your wishes is to ask yourself which of them would have the most positive impact on this part of your life? Review your priorities from this perspective and make any necessary adjustments.
Related Articles (goal setting guide):
- Executive coaching
- Personal coaching
- Get an executive coach
- Life coaching
- How to become a life coach
- Executive coaching training
- Corporate executive coaching
- Performance coaching
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