How did you manage to get up this morning?

When you have a shower how do you know when you are clean or refreshed enough?

Or how much cereal and milk to put in your bowl or butter on your toast?

Strange questions? Perhaps. But these are examples of strategies, which underpin everything we do.

Our habits and our behaviours all consist of strategies and most of which are unconscious.


What are strategies?

Simply put, they are the series of steps that we go through which produce the same outcomes or experience time and time again.

They are mostly unconscious, which is good as it means we can get lots of things done. Imagine having to think consciously about doing every single thing, you’d not get far in a day!

As well as effective strategies, which result in a successful outcome (ie knowing when we’re clean enough when showering) we can have inneffective ones too, which cause us problems and can stop us achieving things.

Have a think about the following questions.

  • Do you find it hard or easy to make decisions?
  •  Do you have to have a plan or you feel uneasy or do you resist making plans?
  • Are you a deadline dancer who leaves everything to the last moment?
  • Do you tend to be late, or have to arrive in plenty of time.
  • How are you at managing your money and finances?
  • Do you always react in a certain way to a particular situation or person and end up feeling bad?
  • Are you able to communicate your needs clearly or maintain your boundaries?
  • Do you think you’re bad at spelling, maths or cooking?
  • How are you at maintaining successful and healthy relationships.
  • Are you able to communicate your needs clearly or maintain your boundaries?
  • Do you seem to go from crisis to crisis?
  • Do you hate flying, heights or spiders?
  • How do you feel about presenting in front of a group?

Behind each of these is a series of steps that happen in a specific order, which produce the same outcomes or experience.


For example, if you love presenting your strategy might be something like this:

  1. Just before you step out or stand up you feel butterflies in your stomach
  2. You say to yourself, I’m looking forward to share and give my best
  3. You see the audience looking interested and curious.

On the other hand if you dislike presenting your strategy might be:

  1. Just before you step out or stand up you feel butterflies in your stomach
  2. You say to yourself something like, I’m feeling nervous and sick, they’ll probably think I’m boring
  3. You see the audience looking frightening and critical.

What’s the point of all this?

The value of understanding our strategies lies in being able to change them precisely and effectively if they don’t work. Here’s one way you can do that for yourself now.

  1. Identify something you do that’s problematic or that you’d like to improve.
  2. Write out the sequence of steps you currently takewhen doing it. Detail and precision is vital here as you need to discover the exact point which results in the strategy running inneffectively.
  3. Now decide whatyou could do differently at that exact point that will give you a better result.
  4. What is the smallest change you could make that would disrupt your normal sequence of steps?

In the example about presenting above, it’s the point at which the inner voice speaks to that person which triggers the outcome.

Key takeaways

  1. Your strategies are the recipes for doing what you do – successfully or unsuccessfully.
  2. Identify your strategies – both the ones that work and don’t work.
  3. Break your really successful strategies down to help you change other strategies that don’t work well.
  4. Break down your unhelpful strategies (unwanted habits or behaviours) down and insert a different trigger to change the outcome.
  5. Precision is vital.
  6. If you’re not achieving the outcomes you want, change your strategies.

 In NLP Practitioner training participants learn several ways to change and use strategies to create positive outcomes. If you’re curious to know more, have a look here.

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