Top positive review
165 people found this helpful
Solid, practical advice
on 26 July 1999
Over the years, I've read many a book on goal-setting and achievement. I started many years ago with the obligatory 'Think and Grow Rich', avoided Anthony Robbin's 'Unlimited Power' because it looked 'too American', floundered around some more in the Positive Mental Attitude books, and came back to Anthony Robbins in desperation. I was seeking something practical and effective, to help me manage my life, as I was having problems due to giving up a well-paid job to study full-time. At that point, I was hooked on NLP. However, if I had read Wishcraft, I might have bypassed Anthony Robbins altogether, and would not be where I am today (such at it is :-) ) Why? Because this book provides everything I was looking for in a book at that time.
It is split into two broad sections: the first helps you to answer the question "What are my goals?"; the second, "How do I achieve them?". The first section contains a number of fairly standard exercises to help you brainstorm your goals. If you are new to the idea of goal-setting, this is a great place to start; however, if you have done many exercises in goal-setting, then most of these exercises will be familiar. However, I suspect that most people will find something of use here, no matter how well- read they are.
The second section is where the book comes into its own. The authors outline a number of tools and methods to help you be successful once you know what your goals are. Some of them are to do with planning, some to do with emotions and managing your state, some are to do with getting the help of others.
The planning model is the best I've come across, and I've done some formal training on planning in a corporate environment. It doesn't cover complex ideas like GANT charts, critical-path analysis, and so on, but it does provide a simple, workable, and effective method of setting out what you'll actually need to do to reach your goal. And it all boils down to two simple questions .....
Can I do this tomorrow? If not, what do I need to do first?
Keep going through those two questions, and you'll end up with a plan consisting of achievable steps that you can do in a day, rather than huge steps which take days or weeks to accomplish. One of the difficulties that many people experience with tasks of this size is due to lack of specificity; breaking the task down into smaller ones helps to make it more 'real' and hence easier to get started on and to acccomplish.
However, in any planning model, particularly where you are venturing out into uncharted territory, there will be some points in your plan where you simply do not know what steps are required - if you are familiar with the idea of unconscious incompetence, then you'll know what I mean. (If not, take a quick look at the article below). Again, using one simple idea, the authors can help you to overcome those problems, based on the idea that if you can't do something, then you know someone who can, or you know someone who knows someone who can, or you know someone who knows someone who...
They call the idea 'barnraising', from the idea in certain communities where each person helps the others build their barn, and then receive help from each person in building their own barn. They suggest getting all your friends, family, and colleagues together; tell them EXPLICITLY what you want; and see how they can help. At the same time, help them with their goals or plans. Whilst not a new idea, the authors go out of their way to tell you that you don't have to do everything by yourself, and then give you a framework in which to work with others to achieve your mutual goals. Anyone familiar with Stephen Covey's Seven Habits will immediately recognize the win/win situation.
Where this ties in nicely with NLP is the 'explicit' part: the meta-model is the ideal tool here for: A) defining what you need B) clarifying exactly what help others can provide C) helping others define what they need.
The authors also provide two questions that will help if you encounter a problem in the form of 'I can't do/have X until I have/do Y' The two questions are:
How can I get X without having/doing Y? How can I get/do Y?
Later, the book covers some basic time management skills, and some general strategies for dealing with fear, including one called 'Lower Your Standards - at First'. The latter goes against many positive thinking-type books by saying if your goals are too far beyond your current beliefs about what you can do, you will most likely be afraid. The way to reduce your fear is to aim to do things badly, then there is no problem if you do actually do them badly. Then, when you've got some experience under your belt, you will be in a position to set realistic, challenging, and achievable goals.
The comments I've written here sound fairly mundane - I'm not one to rant and rave over a book. One of the biggest complements that I can give a book is to say that I will never throw it away, and I will read it at least once per year without fail. I've had this book for about 4 years now, and I've read it 5-6 times, and I will never throw it away (at least, I might, but only to replace it with a less dog-eared copy). Its simplicity, elegance, and plain- talking, combined with sold, practical advice, make it one of my favourite books.