Rethinking Everything I’ve Learned About Goal Setting
I’ve been spending years setting and pursuing goals but what I just learned might change all of it. I’m still processing exactly what my conclusions are, but I thought I’d share it with you in real-time.
Regardless of your experience setting and working toward goals, you’ve probably heard about how effective they are. You cannot achieve something that isn’t clearly defined, and taking the time to set goals helps you get clear on exactly what results you’re hoping to reach. Good specific goals sound something like “Run a Marathon by December 2023”, “Hit my $100k sales quota in March”, and “Give my first paid keynote speech by June 2023”.
If you’re setting goals like that then you’re already advanced in the way you think about it, but I want to share one shortcoming. How are you supposed to attain these goals? They're clear and inspiring, but what’s the process to making them reality? When we define our goals we often connect to our vision, which is abstract and dynamic. It’s great to tap into what you want to achieve but it takes you further away from knowing how to achieve it.
Instead of setting goals, maybe we start defining desired outcomes. Functionally it’s the same thing - “Run a Marathon by December 2023”, “Hit my $100k sales quota in March”, and “Give my first paid keynote speech by June 2023”... But it suggests that there’s a process to it. An outcome is something that comes as a result of doing something else. Crafting your ambition as an outcome makes it more actionable and process based, which will hold you more accountable to doing the things required to achieve the desired outcome.
And in a strange way, it also separates you emotionally from the end result. When you don’t hit your goals it all feels like falling short. Of course 90% to quota is better than 50%, but psychologically hitting a goal is more binary. Either you did it or you didn’t. When you pursue a desired outcome, you acknowledge that there’s a spectrum to it in the very nature of it. It recognizes that there are other possible outcomes and many of them would be a good end result. You give yourself more space to consider that when you frame it up as a desired outcome rather than a goal.