Would you choose a vacation destination and then sit around your house until it was time to go back to work? If that sounds silly, think about the times you thought about losing weight or finding a more fulfilling job but didn’t take the steps necessary to achieve what you wanted.
In the vacation scenario, strategy may not be a big deal because your motivation is high, and obstacles are few. However, when you’re pursuing more challenging goals, it’s important to think about the process as well as the outcomes.
Enjoy more success by changing your approach to goal setting. Learn more about process goals and how to use them.
- Focus on behavior. You’re probably familiar with outcome goals that describe results, like managing your blood pressure. However, it can be difficult to make progress unless you also set process goals for the related steps, like cutting back on salt and exercising regularly.
- Learn from experience. Your past victories give you a foundation to build on. Identify your strengths and the tactics that work for you.
- Clarify your expectations. Analyzing your goals gives you an opportunity to consider whether they’ll really provide the benefits you’re hoping for. For example, if you’re trying to build your self-esteem, you may decide to cancel plastic surgery and go back to school instead.
- Be specific. Precise goals are easier to visualize, giving you more motivation and a clearer sense of direction. Identify your top priorities and express your thoughts in the simplest language possible.
- Face reality. Ask yourself if you’re capable of achieving your goals. For example, you may discover that you need to earn an additional certification before you can apply for a more senior position.
- Think positive. Use your goals to describe things you want in your life rather than things you’re trying to avoid. It’s more fun and effective.
- Combine your goals. Process goals supplement your outcome goals rather than replace them. When you put them together, you can see the big picture and pay attention to the details.
- Break things down. If your final goal is a long way off, you may need to create shorter term objectives to strive for. Each victory will reinforce your commitment, especially if you find satisfying ways to reward yourself for your efforts.
- Evaluate your progress. Measurable goals enable you to assess how you’re coming along. You might keep a journal or use a checklist to mark off the tasks that you’ve completed.
- Overcome obstacles. What if you’re falling behind? Planning for contingencies will help you deal with unexpected events that come between you and your goals. For example, you could keep running each day by switching to an indoor track if your local park is buried in snow.
- Recover from relapses. What if you temporarily abandoned your goals, but you’re determined to bounce back? Let go of guilt and give yourself credit for making a fresh start. Work on making changes that will help you stay on track.
- Change your environment. Your surroundings play a major role in your ability to reach your goals. It will be easier to enjoy higher quality sleep if you replace your sagging mattress and move your TV out of your bedroom.
- Seek support. Social support is another key ingredient for success. Let your family and friends know how they can help you.
Process goals help you to focus on the things you can control and give you a concrete plan. Create the life you want by setting meaningful goals and taking the necessary actions to reach them.