Which type of goal works best?

A red and white target with a red dart hitting the center.

Tis the season! Everyone’s setting – or has already set – goals for the year.

But what you may not realize is that there’s not just one type of goal.

Most people set …

Outcome Goals

An outcome goal is exactly what it sounds like: a goal to achieve a specific outcome or result. Lose 25 pounds. Drive an 8% increase in profits year over year. Read a book a week. Run a marathon by September.

And so on.

Outcome goals are necessary: if we want to get someplace, it’s helpful to know where that “someplace” actually is.

But they’re not sufficient. To actually get to “someplace,” we also need …

Process Goals

HOW will you get those results? What actions will you take?

Some actions will be one-off. Some actions will repeat, whether daily, weekly, or monthly.

How will you get to that 24-pounds-lighter you? What actions will you take? Will you go to the gym every day? hire a fitness coach for an initial assessment and plan? walk the dog, rain, snow, or shine? eliminate sugar from your diet?

How will you increase profits 8% over last year? Sell something new? Make more sales calls? Increase your marketing efforts?

As a side note, you’ll want to measure the effectiveness of all your process goals. Are they actually getting you closer to where you want to be? If not, tweak, change, update – whatever is necessary to move you forward.

And then, to support of these first two types of goals, you need …

Feeling Goals

When we set outcome goals and define the process goals necessary to get there, we’re usually trying to create change in our lives – sometimes significant change.

This can be daunting.

(For more on why change is so hard, check out the two white papers on my Useful Papers page – they address change within organizations, but the concepts are relevant for individuals as well.)

It’s important, therefore, to pay attention to how we want to feel as we execute on the process goals and achieve the outcomes.

How will running that marathon make you feel? Strong, powerful, confident, healthy? Or something else?

What about reading a book a week? Will it help you feel more informed, more relaxed, more interesting, or what?

Defining how you want to feel, both when you actually achieve the result and along the way as you do the things that get to you that result, will help keep you motived when the change just seems like too much.

A powerful combination

Together, these three types of goals will help you achieve far more than any one of them alone.

Without outcome goals, you don’t have an objective in mind. As Lewis Carroll is (mis)quoted* from Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Or as Yogi Berra commented, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”

Without process goals, you don’t have a road map for how to get to the outcome.

And without feeling goals, you’re at risk of frustration, overwhelm, and discouragement.

But there’s one more type of goal …

Vague goals

You’ll notice that each of the examples I listed at the beginning – weight loss, profitability, reading, and running – had a measurement applied to it. Twenty-five pounds, 8%, one per week, and by September. (Bonus points if you noticed that the weight-loss goal didn’t have a “by when” date!)

All too often, people omit the measurement.

Vague goals are virtually impossible to achieve, because you’ll never know when you arrive.

Don’t set vague goals.

DO set your goals in triads: outcome, process, and feeling.

You’ll be far more likely to achieve what you want – and have a better time getting there!

* To see how this actually appears in the book, click here: https://philosiblog.com/2011/07/13/if-you-dont-know-where-youre-going/

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