For years I was a mentor in a teen mentoring program, and at the beginning of every semester we’d set goals. This was one of the hardest meetings of the year – attendance was poor, the kids were unruly, and there was a higher-than-usual level of whining going on.
It was a challenge, because the kids always wanted to set goals like get “straight A’s”, even though most of them were lucky to have a C average. And then as soon as we asked them what they were going to do differently to change the outcome, the conversation got really awkward.
As adults, when it comes to goal-setting, we don’t necessarily make smarter decisions than those teens – somehow when it comes to our ability to accomplish goals, we tend to think we are immune to the laws of time and physics. Wasting time playing party poker video rarely does anything to help accomplish your goals!
But, if you can take the two different types of goals and put them together so they work synergistically, then you have a real shot at accomplishing anything you put your mind to.
The 2 Types of Goals
1. Outcome-Based Goals
Outcome-based goals are things like “I want to lose 10 pounds by 4th of July” or “I want to ship my ebook by the end of the month.” Your goal is based solely on the outcome you are seeking – but there is nothing about HOW you are going to get there. I love outcome-based goals, and they tend to be the ones we dream about, but they are also trickier to succeed as you don’t have direct control over whether you will achieve it or not.
2. Behavior-Based Goals
Behavior-based goals are the intermediate goals that help us achieve our outcome-based goal. Whether you achieve them or not is based solely on whether you put the time in. For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds by the 4th of July, you probably need to make some changes to your diet, exercise, sleep habits, stress levels, etc. In this case, you might say that you need to do 30 minutes of exercise 5 times per week, sleep at least 7 hours per night, and completely eliminate refined carbs – all goals that you can choose to accomplish or not.
Both types of goals are super-valuable, and I think they pack a powerful one-two punch when used together. You choose an outcome-based goal, and then establish your behavior-based goals that support accomplishing your outcome-based goal.
The S.M.A.R.T Way to Set Goals
Time and time again, I see people fall down on making their goals S.M.A.R.T. But it’s a really sensible model to use – providing a great framework for helping tame that ambition and increase the odds of letting you cross that goal off your bucket list (or even your weekly to-do list).
- Specific: You need to have a specific goal. For example, I want to complete my ebook by the end of the month.
- Measurable: How long is that ebook going to be (either word count or pages)? While you may not know specifically how long it will be until you write it, you probably already have a sense of whether it’s a 30-pager or a 100-pager. Setting a measurable number is critical for keeping you on track.
- Attainable: Is it actually possible to complete your goal in the timeframe specified? If it’s 100 pages and you have 7 days left in the month; that probably isn’t attainable. Look at your calendar and what else is going on in your life and determine what sort of commitment you can make to the goal. Better to revise the target than to miss it.
- Relevant: Is the goal you are setting actually important to you or your larger goals? There is nothing wrong with pursuing a passion just because, but it’s important to acknowledge that in your goal-setting because right now might not be the time to be pursuing this specific goal.
- Time-Bound: You need an end date. In the case of our ebook, we have an end date of the end of the month for the outcome-based goal, and our behavior-based goal may be to write 1,500 words per day.
Goal-Setting Leads to Project Management
The funny thing about goal-setting is that it’s really not that much different from project management.
- In project management, our outcome-based goal is to implement the project successfully.
- The behavior-based goals are the work back plans.
- The S.M.A.R.T. component is enforced by the project manager who has to appropriately “load” his or her resources – you can’t be in meetings 6 hours a day and complete two 4-hour deliverables each day.
So the next time you have an audacious goal to chase, put on your project management hat (or hit up your favorite project manager friend) and get them to help you lay out a plan.
How do you set goals? Do you use the two types of goals together?
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