Goals – Process or Outcome Driven?

Goals - you need to aim at somethingGoals? Enough already

Goals. I can almost hear you screaming, “Oh no! Another article on goal-setting? Enough already.”

Well, yes and no.

I’m not going to discuss how to set them as such, but I will look at why setting them is so critically important to achieving success in any endeavour and I will also briefly discuss two classes of goals and why it is good to know the difference between them.

Why are they so important?

When you set a goal, you are making a commitment, either to yourself or to the world at large. You are setting a clear intention to do or achieve something. You should set them with great care. How you set and handle your goals says a lot about your character, resilience and mental toughness. Some people set them and fail repeatedly, yet carry on until they get their big win. Certain people fail once or twice then give up entirely. Other people never try anything at all. Some people go all in for the big prize whilst others are in it for the long-haul. There are many variations. By the way, I will talk more about measuring success and failure and other key goal related factors in other articles.

Goals and goal- setting work

The key message I want to put across here is that, all other things being equal, forming well-conceived and well-designed goals will give you a far better chance of success than not having goals at all.

We humans are easily distracted creatures. We will wander off track.  Having a compelling goal gives us something to come back to when we wander, like scuba divers might use a safety line to guide them to a shipwreck then back up to the dive boat again. If we don’t have a goal we could end up anywhere. Some people are happy to drift through life like this but I’m not. I create goals for myself.

I firmly believe in and follow the tenet, “If you want to get ahead get a goal.”

Process goals & outcome goals

There are two classes of goals I want to mention now, namely outcome and process.

Most large goals employ both classes at various times but, I believe it is important to know the difference between them and when to use each one most effectively.

Outcome goals

Outcome goals have a defined result or target to be achieved, often within a clearly specified period. I am writing this on New Year’s Day, so it is apt because outcome goals are the ones we are all familiar with. We generally form our new year resolutions using outcome goals. They can be very powerful, but they can also carry within them the seeds of their own failure. With the very best of intentions, we all tend to set very lofty, large and distant targets, and this puts immediate pressure on us.

For example, “I’m going to work out and lose 20 Kg in weight by the start of the summer holidays and I mean it this year, no excuses.” It has solid intention but there is no clear route to follow. As I mentioned, we humans are easily distracted. The first setback often becomes a terminal block and we feel down because we gave up. Better luck next year.

 Process goals

A process goal is a one where the aim is to complete certain activities or actions on a regular basis for a specified amount of time. There is no expected result as such but because you will follow a regular and repeated process you will gain your successes and results along the way.

An example might be, “I am going to go to the gym and work out for an average of 3 times a week for the next 6 months.” There is flexibility here and options for catch-up if obstacles are encountered. There might be any number of outcomes, both positive and negative. Through following this process you will discover them as you work out for the 6 months. When the 6 months is up you can look back and compare your before and after status if you need an outcome assessment. Your focus will be on taking as much control as possible over the process itself and how you follow it rather than on a distant goal which you may or may not achieve.

It might look like I’m down on outcome goals. Not at all. They each have their merits when designed well and used appropriately. They each have drawbacks which need to be accounted for.

The best option?

I won’t recommend a “this is the one you need” method because everyone is different. I tend to adopt process goals for my far-reaching plans. This promotes the formation of (usually) beneficial habits and long-term positive changes. For example, “I intend to go for at least one walk every day for the coming year.” I tend to use outcome goals for specific time-critical steps which need to be achieved to help facilitate the process goals. For example, “I will redesign my entire business calendar and course schedule by the end of the first week in January to enable 1 hour of walking time to be available every day.”

Experiment with both types. When you find a method which works for you, stick to it and thrive.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have, please subscribe to either the blog or my newsletter to ensure you hear about subsequent articles and other useful and informative material.

In the meantime, you might also like to check out:

Self-regulation and its importance to you

 

Goal-setting the WACKY way

WACKY goal-setting graphic man holding elephant above his headWhy WACKY goal-setting?

If you’re going to use goal-setting in your life then you might as well set big ones. I recommend making them as WACKY as possible. The WACKY’er the better in fact!

Goals and goal-setting are fundamental tools for personal and organisational development. After all, how can you know you have achieved something or even improved your situation at all if you have no target or benchmark to work from?

SMART Goals

SMART goal-setting is the most common business goal-setting tool. Acronyms are very common in the business world and SMART goals are generally taken to be goals which are Specific, Measurable & Motivating, Aligned, Reachable or Relevant and Time Driven. This is all well and good in the business world where by and large people want a stretch but not too much of a stretch. The consequences of failure in the modern business world are often high so the taking of chances is not encouraged by many managers. I personally view this as a huge deficiency in many organisations. Permission to try and to fail (and therefore to learn) is not usually given. A whole raft of articles could be written on the reluctance to embrace failure for growth and I’m sure I’ll write one or two more soon enough.

SMART goal-setting doesn’t always mean smart goals

Many people, through their experience at work, are familiar and comfortable with the SMART goal-setting approach. If they form any personal goals at all, they are likely to design SMART goals. When the same timidity and safety driven approach applies to personal goals they are weak, provide a small stretch only and are not that motivating. Are these goals being achieved? If they are being achieved, are they rocking your or anyone else’s world? My answer to both questions is NO!!

Am I completely against SMART goal-setting? Actually, no I’m not. They have their place and work well for tasks that form stages or sub-goals within a big WACKY goal.

Think Bigger

When pursuing goals in your life make them big. Make them huge, awesome, life-changing, jaw-dropping, pulse quickening goals that are worth your effort and time. Aim for the stars – even if you come up short you will still have had a hell of a ride and be higher than most everyone else. You will have learnt valuable lessons and be more than motivated to try again. In my opinion it is far better to regret the things you’ve done than live a life regretting the ones you didn’t try.

My WACKY goal-setting manifesto

This is how I do it – using the catchy acronym WACKY. Catchy acronyms stick in your mind and you can access them easily. Hopefully you’ll then use it all the time and spread the message to others.

I really want people thinking my personal goals are totally WACKY – that’s great. It means they will likely be the goals that others may not have thought of.  I want goals which scare others .  I want to stretch myself – that’s the only way to grow and develop as a person and be able to help others more effectively. That’s always been my driving force. Partial failure of one of my WACKY goals will often be better than most people’s mediocre SMART goals – I’ll learn loads of good stuff and be that much closer to where I want to be. I also take my time to form them and that way I get the real honest “from the heart” stuff – it works for me and it could work for you.

These WACKY goals are generally my over-arching long-range life goals so they will certainly contain lots of mini-goal stages – that’s fine – many small (SMART) steps will add up to a huge WACKY journey. It all makes life very interesting.

WACKY goal-setting defined

So let’s get going with what WACKY means to me.

Wonderful

WACKY goals are wonderful. They are full of wonder. I want filling with wonder, otherwise what’s the point? It has to be something that makes my imagination work hard. I want it to play on my mind and draw me on down that road less travelled.

Animating

WACKY goals fire me up. They get me raring to go. No fire up and no raring to go means I’ll find a better goal instead. I want my pulse to quicken when I think about it. I want to talk with animation when I talk to my nearest and dearest. It must create amazement and passion.

Colossal

I make it big, bigger and bigger again. If it doesn’t make me stop and think “hold the phone, that’s big even by my standards – people will think I’m mad” then I rethink it and just make it bigger. I make it a huge hairy-arsed goal that if achieved will make me think “Yeah, that was a good one”. If people saw my goal in the street they would cross the road to avoid it – it will be a kick-butt ferocious slavering monster of a goal.

Killer

I try to make it undeniably unique and special; when achieved it will be well worth the sacrifice and effort. I try always to be a trend setter and not a follower – I therefore try to set grand goals that I and others have not yet achieved.

Yours

I have to own my goal with my heart and soul. It’s personal. I’ll pour huge energy into it – failure is not an attractive option. For example, roller skating backwards up Everest is just not my chosen WACKY goal. However, being the best and highest paid professional coach in the world is. My goals have to be my goals and your goals have to be your goals. I’ve learnt over the years to pick goals that really do chime with my core values. My values as an individual and a unique human being are super important.

Over to you

That’s it. This technique of goal-setting has taken me years of study and searching. I’ve worked hard to learn more and refine it. It’s still a work in progress because it is a life-long challenge. No one said it would be easy did they? I urge you therefore to use SMART for the small things but be WACKY for the important ones.

Try and design some of your own WACKY goals for your life. They will take you to some wonderful places.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.