Goals: Outcome vs Behavior
Goals, we all have them, but how do you properly set one? Today I aim to help break that process down for you and help you spend more time reaching goals instead of dreaming of them.
The first part is easy, just pick something 😉! At this point nothing is off limits so give it your best shot. Once you’ve done that then the process begins. Now, let’s look at what you picked. I’m going to guess that this goal is what I would call and “outcome based” goal. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not, but as you’ll soon see there may be a better way to tackle this process.
An outcome based goal is simply a goal that has a clear end in sight. As I’m sure you’re aware, the steps that it may take to reach that end can range from vast and comprehensive to simple and easy. When it comes to making meaningful changes in your life success begets success. It’s important to chose paths that you can not only realistically do but also provide you a sense of accomplishment from suceeding and reaching them. This is a major component of consistency and compliance to something like an exercise program. The single best program that exists is the one that you will stick with consistently because you enjoy it and it provides results.
Ok, coming off that small tangent on exercise programs let’s now circle back to outcome based goals. These types of goals are bombarded in our face daily and it’s no surprise that our minds are geared towards them. Just take a look at many of the fitness commercials that air today. Take this pill to lose weight, go through this procedure to lose belly fat, eat this diet to lose 10 pounds in 4 weeks. When it comes to goals it’s great to know the destination you want to go, but I’ll argue that it’s even more important to know HOW you’ll get there.
This is where “behavior based” goals come in. Setting a behavior based goal is the process of picking something that LEADS towards your outcome based goal. Let’s be honest, life happens or something can come up to delay or prevent your outcome goal from ever occurring. If that’s your main goal you’ll likely feel a bit down about it because you being unable to reach it may seem to be a failure. Utilizing behavior based goals can completely eliminate this type of thinking and help you still reach the outcomes you desire (as long as the behavior based goal is set correctly - more on that later!).
Let’s look at some real life examples of how this can play out:
Outcome goal: I want to lose 10 pounds
Losing weight and reaching a certain number is one of the most common goals out there. The factors that affect that vary differently from person to person, but typically eating a bit healthier and moving more is one of the first steps in the right direction. What if you do your best but don’t lose any weight? You probably will be a bit disappointed because you didn’t reach your ultimate goal. The solution, change the goal to something more behavior based.
Behavior goal: I will walk 10,000 steps daily
This goal is a bit more concrete and something you have much more control over as opposed to you reaching an outcome goal. Consistently walking 10,000 steps a day is a great way to increase daily expenditure, which directly affects your ability to lose weight. It’s important when picking these goals though that you pick something you feel will be rather easy and something you can be compliant to. Remember, the name of the game here is success and keeping motivation up. If you realistically can only walk 10,000 steps a day on the weekend then picking that as a daily goal is setting yourself up for disappointment and that goal is not advisable. If you know you can consistently walk 6,500 steps a day then that is the goal you should set. Every day you do this is a win for you and a step in the right direction for the outcome based goal of losing weight.
Let’s do one more example that as a bit more broad in scale:
Outcome goal: I want to sleep better
First off, it’s important to determine what “better” is for goals like these so you can properly assess if the goal is met. For some it just may mean time in bed, and for others it may mean how they feel when they wake up. As above, this goal is derived solely on the outcome and since it’s a bit ambiguous you will be hard pressed to know if your efforts helped reach it. Let’s take a look at one of many behaviors this person could set to reach the outcome.
Behavior goal: Turn off all screens by 8pm
This goal is another clear cut behavior that you can do to directly help improve sleep. Just like the previous goal, it’s important to make sure this goal is a realistic one so set you up for success. If you know that you may be expecting important e-mails after 8pm then that is going to require a ton of willpower to avoid looking at screens to view them. Maybe a better goal is to put on a pair of blue blockers at 8pm (see last blog post 😝).
Hopefully at this point you have a good understanding of what it means to set a behavior based goal over an outcome goal. You still will always start with the outcome (you have to know where you want to end up), but once you’ve settled on that it’s imperative you break it down into the behaviors that will directly lead to that outcome. If you ever need more detailed help with the goal setting process don’t hesitate to reach out!
Remember, success begets success 😊.