Generally speaking, your goals will fit into one of two categories; outcome goals, and process goals. Loosely defined, outcome goals are a result you’d like to achieve, and process goals as the processes you will need to repeatedly follow to achieve that result. For an athlete this might be represented by an outcome goal of making the team, and a process goal of competing your hardest every possession. But the question remains, which is better? Are you better off concentrating on outcome goals or process goals? The truth is, both are critical for success. One without the other rarely works, which is one of the reasons very few athletes achieve their goals. From this perspective it can be useful to see outcome goals and process goals as two sides of the same coin.
You need clear outcome goals to clarify your end destination. There should be no question as to what you want to achieve. The more crystal clear your outcome goal is the more likely you are to succeed. But you also need to know the action steps required to get you there. What are the key processes that when performed consistently will lead you to your destination. Think of it like this. If you were to embark on a journey, you would first need to decide exactly where you want to go (outcome goal). Next, you would need to determine how you’re going to get there (process goal). If you focus only on your end destination without considering your mode of transport, it’s likely that time will pass and you’ll still be in the exact same place. If you focus only on your mode of transport without being clear on your end destination it’s likely that you’ll expend a lot of unnecessary energy and not even like where you’ve ended up. To eliminate these issues it’s important to know both your end destination and the appropriate mode of transport required to get there. You then want to include quick check-ins along the way to make sure you’re still heading in right direction.
Tracking Your Action
Tracking your action is a critical component of goal attainment. Here’s why. The big problem with process goals is that they’re generally pretty boring. Usually they’re a grind. They are the hard work that leads to the exciting stuff. It may take months, or even years of slogging away at your process goals before you see the results of this daily grind. If you fail to track this daily and weekly action it’s likely that you’ll fall off the wagon long before your end goal is achieved. If however, you not only track this daily action but also celebrate it, staying focused is a breeze.
I refer to process goals as Critical Action Steps (CAS). Essentially CAS’s are the steps that are absolutely critical to you hitting your target. When you commit to these CAS’s on a daily basis, it’s almost impossible to fail. I’ve included a simplified version of a system that I use with my athletes to not only set appropriate outcome goals and critical actions steps, but also to track the action they are taking, and reward themselves along the way.
If you’re goal setting program is not ticking these four boxes then you need to re-evaluate it. To lean more high level tips on goal setting and other peak performance strategies you can visit Matt’s blog at www.peakperformancesports.com.au.