How the NLP Skill of Chunking Can Help You Get What You Want

Although most of us have goals and dreams, why do so few people succeed in achieving what they really want?

The problem for many is that, when they set a big objective, they can be put off by the scale of the task.

But as the Chinese philosopher Confucius said:

‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’

The problem for many people is that the whole thousand miles seems intimidating but the first step can also seem unsatisfying.

So they never get started.

This is true in business as well. Your journey to a hundred customers begins with the first sale and your journey to a million dollars in the bank begins with your first thousand.

But most of us begin by looking too far ahead. The secret is to find a way of taking that first step quickly.

One of the ways in which we can categorize people according to how they think is through their preferred ‘chunk size’. This reflects whether they like to look at the detail of all the individual steps or just the big picture of the total journey.

takingstepsThe problem is that both types of people can have difficulty in reaching their destination. They might lose focus by getting bogged down in the detail or else they never take any action because they don’t identify the steps required.

The NLP process called ‘chunking’ helps both types of people – and the truth is most of us have elements of one or the other.

The secret of taking action is making the steps small enough to be manageable and large enough to be satisfying.

Fortunately the process is quite simple when you have a system to follow and it is useful in a wide range of situations from time management to writing a presentation.

We can use the concept of chunking in two ways. We can:

  • Become more specific and get more detail.
  • Become more general and get a bigger picture.

Using chunking to become more specific

If we are talking about cars, for example, we can become more specific by talking about makes of car such as Ford or BMW.

We can then become more specific still by going down to brands or models from each manufacturer.

The secret of making this work is asking the right questions. In the car situation, we might ask ‘what are some examples of this?’

This can be represented visually, for example, using a mind-mapping approach where each idea is broken down into further segments.

If you are developing an action plan, you might ask ‘what specifically do I need to do to achieve this?’

Or in writing a presentation, you might ask ‘What information supports this point?’

Here’s another view on using chunking for planning.

Although this seems very simple, it is extremely useful in a wide range of situations.

Using chunking to become more general
Chunking also helps us to become more general – in the cars example, we would move towards other types of road transport and then other types of transport and finally up to something very general like ‘movement’.

Again the secret is in the questions you ask. In this example, it would have been: ‘What is this an example of?’ or ‘What is the purpose of this?’

One way in which chunking to become more general is useful is where you have a large to-do list and you want to organize it into categories or chunks that can be combined.

For each task on your list, you would ask ‘what does this task achieve?’ or ‘which category does it fall into?’

Check out this article by Adam Eason for more suggestions.

Chunking can therefore help you take the steps you need to get what you want.