The Power of Process vs Outcome Goals

How do you feel about goal setting? Is it an enjoyable experience, or an activity you avoid? You’ve likely heard about the “power” of having clear goals, but do you regularly set clear goals and achieve them? If you are like me, the reason you avoid the whole goal setting scene is that goals can actually lead to discouragement and even despair. Being reminded of unfulfilled outcomes can produce questions like “Am I just kidding myself?” and “Will I really ever get there?”

So what’s the answer? Steve Chandler in his book, Shift Your Mind, has a short chapter that distinguishes Process Goals from Outcome Goals. Outcome Goals are those big dreams; descriptions of the ultimate outcomes from years of discipline and pursuit. If you want for Outcome Goals to be useful and effective, you need to use them properly. An Outcome Goal is great for setting direction, and essential for planning and prioritizing. Outcome Goals will stretch you and cause you to think bigger and more creative thoughts. They break you out of your comfort zone, and force you to ask better questions and see bigger possibilities.

However, Outcome Goals can become your enemy if you try to derive all your motivation and satisfaction from them. They can taunt you and make you feel like a failure. If you set big Outcome Goals, they can seem overwhelming and even impossible to achieve. Great Outcome Goals are designed to challenge your current ability and capacity, but they need a partner to make them effective called Process Goals.

A Process Goal is a specific, achievable short term (daily) measurable action. A Process Goal answers the question “What specific action will I accomplish TODAY?” Process Goals move you immediately into action. They provide clear achievable outcomes for right now and kill all procrastination and excuses.

For instance, you might have an Outcome Goal to increase your sales $1,000,000 over the next three years. Once you have that Outcome Goal defined, you need to create great Process Goals that will take you to that outcome. A good Process Goal would be “set one appointment with a new prospective customer each day”. Use your long-term Outcome Goals to direct and inspire the daily achievable Process Goals. Then enjoy the feeling of accomplishment by achieving those Process Goals every day. The combination of Process and Outcomes is a key to getting the result and making goals effective and fun!

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