PICS Method Outcome Creation
“I just want to be happy.”
Neato. Not many people wish the opposite, friend. Trick is, how are you going to arrive there, and what does arriving there even look like? “I just want to be happy” is a statement that has absolutely nothing tangible to it. What is happy? What will make you happy? When will you begin becoming happy? What will it take to remain happy? What are the primary, secondary, and tertiary steps to reaching your ideal level of happiness?
What is step number one we can take to just remove the feeling of existential dread? I am afraid that is above my paygrade, but I can at least send you in the right direction. To help drive your goals and begin to assimilate substance around an outcome you desire, consider using the PICS method: Be positive, immediate, concrete, and specific around your goal setting(PICS).
Positive — You should always phrase your goals around positivity, not negativity. “I don’t want to be weak anymore” is not a good goal. “I want to get my pull-ups stronger” is much better. When you phrase your goals negatively to yourself, you live under the constant threat of remaining in that state and you’re effectively telling yourself that you’re weak everyday. Psychologically, this predisposes us to remain exactly what we’re trying to avoid. Our negative thoughts create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Focus on where you want to go, not where you don’t want to end up.
Immediate — Choose now over later. Saying that you want to win a powerlifting meet when you’ve been squat, bench, and deadlifting for a month is not a good goal. Saying you want to train for your first meet is a good goal. Always select goals that have immediate obtainability to them. It’s okay to set some stretch goals, but those should always be accompanied by near term achievements that methodically take you to that stretch goal.
Otherwise, you’re just pointing at things in the room and saying you love them.
Concrete — Goals should be objective, not subjective. They should be based on data and evidence, even if your goal is emotion-based. Using the happiness example, perhaps your goal would be: “I want to quit my job and begin taking the first step towards landing my dream job by April 1st.” ALWAYS make the subjective objective. Assign something you can feel and touch to your goals.
Specific — Don’t live in the world of abstract thinking and actions when it comes to your goals. You don’t want to look better naked. You want to lose fifteen pounds by March 1st. Specific, not abstract.
Let’s use a practical example of fun boy Ricky, age 29. Ricky wants to party less and begin working towards a healthier lifestyle.
- Positive – I want begin living a healthier life.
- Immediate – I want to begin living a healthier life and see noticeable changes in how I feel after the next ninety days.
- Concrete – I want to begin living a healthier life and see noticeable changes in how I feel after the next ninety days. To do this, I am going to start going to the gym, getting more sleep, and eating better.
- Specific – I want to begin living a healthier life and see noticeable changes in how I feel after the next ninety days. To do this, I am going to start going to the gym three days a week, start getting at least seven hours sleep, and will begin making 80% of my meals at home during the week.
Will Ricky see results if he sees this through?
Damn right he will.
But what if Ricky stopped at, “I don’t want to be unhealthy anymore.” Not very effective is it? He’d still be crushing late night pizza four nights a week next month, but re-framed more positively as “I want to begin living a healthier life”, then reinforced by immediate, concrete, and specific terms, and now we have a Ricky who has a game plan.