TOTE: How to Stop yourself going round in circles

At the weekend, I spent an enjoyable day at the Silverstone Classic motor racing event.  We watched all manner of classic vehicles parading and racing around the track.  Watching the old formula 1 cars, it struck me how the race could represent a metaphor for life.

TOTE - going round in circlesHow often do we find ourselves going faster and faster, without getting anywhere; just a sense of going round and round in circles (sometimes of the ever-decreasing variety!)

In NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) we talk a lot about  the TOTE model (Trigger, Operate, Test, Exit). We are basically outcome-orientated organisms and a TOTE is the means by which we organise our behaviour in order to achieve the outcome. First there a trigger which gets us into action, usually a need or desire to move towards something, or avoid something. Then we perform some sort of operation (we do something).  As we operate, we are continually testing whether we are getting closer to our outcome, making course adjustments as necessary. When the outcome is achieved we exit the TOTE.

A TOTE with no exit is an endless loop

We get the “going round in circles” feeling when we haven’t clearly defined the exit for ourselves.  We aren’t sure precisely where it is we are heading.  Just as important, we don’t know HOW we will know when we’ve got there.

So if you have any goals where you feel as though you are putting in a lot of effort, but not seeing real progress, take a moment to really define what it is you want.  Ask yourself what the evidence of success will be – how will you know you have crossed the finishing line?  Ask what you will be seeing, hearing and feeling when you have succeeded.  You could always check out my earlier blog on goal setting for more assistance).

When we take time to really programme ourselves with the end destination, the actions we take become more purposeful – and we know when it is time to stop!

TOTE - The exit pointWhat is your Chequered Flag?

We can all take a lesson from the racing drivers racing on Saturday – they knew the race was over when they saw the chequered flag.  This was their cue to stop racing (time to exit the racing TOTE) – the outcome had been achieved and it was time to celebrate success, reflect on the race, learn from it and prepare for the next one.




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