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Why Your Process Goal Deserves More Focus Than Your Target Outcome

woman aiming arrow at target

Did you start the new year with a big goal?

Many of us do every year, right?

We tell ourselves things like

  • “I will lose XX pounds by this date!” 
  • “I will save XX money by that date!” 
  • “I will find my life partner … or my next career move … or set a retirement date… or stop smoking… or stop drinking… or … SOMETHING REALLY IMPORTANT THAT I PROBABLY WON’T BE ABLE TO DO!”

We’ve all been programmed to focus on outcome goals – and told relentlessly that reaching these goals is all up to us. Success or failure. Win or lose. You make it or you don’t.

But what if that’s not the best way to look at things? What if we started the new year thinking about something besides outcomes?

Let me introduce you to the process goal.

What is a Process Goal?

Your outcome goal is what you actually want (ie lose 20 pounds), your process goal is the series of steps that you take to actually get there (ie working on eating and exercise habits). There will typically be many small process goals to ultimately get you to your desired outcome.

You can’t always control the outcome, but you have complete control over the process.

Aim to Improve Every Day

That’s right. Focus on doing the right thing every day, in little pieces if that’s the best you can do – and keep that up consistently.

Do what you can — what you can control (your words and actions).

That’s the process; trust that the results you are really looking for will come.

Dan John, a champion weightlifter and Highland Games competitor, is 63 and still a trainer and competitor. Focusing on his process has kept him active and competitive, even after some health setbacks we all face (even elite athletes).

Dan John
Dan John

“Goal setting has great value – except it has no value,” Dan says on the Optimal Aging podcast. “What has great value is respecting the process.

“If on January 1, you say I’m going on a diet, it’s better to say, I’m going to drink two glasses of water today, I’m going to go out for a walk, and strive to increase that walk every day… learn how to goblet squat, maybe do a pushup… try to build that up over the 365 days.”

Too often, we simply fail to meet our goals – and we take that as a defeat, as a sign that we, ourselves, are failures.

And too often, we try to do too many things at once and become overwhelmed.

What We Can and Can’t Control

And, let’s face it, there’s SO MUCH we simply can’t control.

I know this – and so do you, of course. So, keep it in mind and use this awareness to shape your thinking.

Consider the common goal of getting promoted at work. Let’s say Sharon wants to become a VP this year. She’s put in the time, she’s met all her marks, etc… But someone comes along who has a better resume – or an uncle on the board of directors! Who knows…? But something beyond Sharon’s control prevents her from receiving the promotion.

It happens to all of us.

Instead, what if Sharon adjusts her daily work habits, finishes her master’s degree, or volunteers to lead a mentoring program? The day-to-day activity will bring the stimulation, interaction, and attention that she’s expecting from that promotion. (And this all makes her more marketable, as well.)

Now, my specialty is helping you lead a healthier life and enjoy the freedom that brings. Just doing one small thing each day; trying to be a little bit better today than yesterday. That is EXACTLY how the online nutrition coaching program works. One small, strategic step at a time – each step building upon the last until you’ve reached your outcome goal.

So, let me help you build a healthy living process that includes regular exercising, better eating habits, and healthy living. (We can even talk about goals, if you like!) I’m here to help you get where you’re going, one day at a time.

For more on the power of doing what you can every day, read “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, a powerful and compelling best-seller to help you wrap your head around getting what you want.

If you’d like to chat about how I can help you achieve the results that you’re looking for, feel free to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with me.

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