The serious goal setters are aware of the important distinction between performance goals and outcome goals. An outcome goal defines a desired outcome at a specific point in time. A performance goal defines an activity that you perform on a regular basis, with no specific destination or outcome. Read on to get a better understanding.
There are several pitfalls with outcome goals. First, if the outcome is too far away, it's difficult to render the discipline to achieve it. An outcome goal of building your savings account to a hundred thousand dollars will likely be difficult to achieve without breaking it down into smaller outcome goals or converting it to performance goals. For instance, breaking it down into a monthly outcome goal to add $100 to the savings account would be more meaningful, making it more believable and achievable. It would be advisable to also attach a performance goal as an aid in achieving the long term outcome goal. For example, a goal of reading a book on finance for a half hour each night can only help the cause of building your savings account to a hundred thousand dollars.
Another pitfall of outcome goals is that, once achieved, the motivation to act is gone. For instance, if you set an outcome goal to lose 20 pounds, once you achieve the goal, there's nothing else to do, no motivation to act going forward. A better approach to losing weight is often to set performance goals that, if achieved, will result in the desired outcome. For instance, a performance goal of running a half hour a day on the treadmill will result in losing the pounds. And, there's no final destination so the performance goal becomes part of your daily routine... forever.
We strongly urge you to convert as many of your outcome goals as you can to performance goals. Just as with anything in life, it's usually the journey that's important, not the destination. Losing 20 pounds is not going to be as gratifying as working out at the gym 30 minutes a day. The latter will result in the former and your state of mind will be much better day to day when you achieve a goal of 30 minutes at the gym. If your focus is on the one time even of losing 20 pounds, you'll be miserable until you hit the goal and when you do achieve it, the joy will be fleeting and then you're left empty again.
For every performance goal you set, you're going to have to track it. You must be accountable to yourself. You can use a piece of paper, a calendar, a spreadsheet, or other online tools. But use something to mark down each day whether you achieved the performance goal or not. We have some free goal setting tools on this website that may serve you well. Click on tools links for more information.
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If you're serious about goal setting, you're going to need tools to aid in designing, refining, and following your plan. We've developed a tool we call the GoalTender but there are many others available on the web and we encourage you to research several articles and tools before investing your money. What works for one person may not work for you.
The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don't define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them.
Michael G. Kraemer (MGK) is a successful entrepreneur, business owner, and lifestyle speaker/consultant. MGK's motivational MO is combining motivational theory with popular music and lyrics.