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Focus on the process not on the outcome

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Focus on the process not on the outcome

Scott Miker

I am a big advocate of setting goals based on the process of getting where you want to go, not on the outcome you hope you achieve.  While many will argue that using specific, measurable goals mean that you will be more likely to achieve a goal, I disagree.

To me reaching a goal isn’t just about what goal you set.  It is about how you are going to achieve that goal.  It is about what you do to achieve the goal.

The reason these process goals are more impactful than outcome goals is that it gets to the root of whether or not you will succeed.  It focuses on what you have to do.

But this can be a difficult shift for some people.  Without a clear number to strive for, they don’t know if they achieve their goal or not.  In business this is especially true because many times we need our performance evaluation to be a review of the work we completed and the objectives we achieved. 

But process goals help you to understand what you can do differently or what you can do better.  It works to slowly and consistently move you towards success. 

So how do you set process goals when you also have to set outcome goals?  How do you satisfy the requirements of a boss but still set goals that will help you improve?

The key is to use the outcome goals as simply a starting point.  Once you have a general idea of what you want to achieve, you can start to further break down your goals into how you will achieve them. 

This may mean additional work on your end.  You may have to come up with systematic elements that you can adjust.  You may find that some elements you thought would make a difference don’t move the needle much and you have to try something else. 

But it also means that you won’t just set the goal and then hope in a year you achieved it.  It forces you to look at the reasons why you will achieve the goal.

The coach of The Ohio State University, Urban Meyer, wrote a book called Above the Line, detailing the 2014 National Championship season at OSU.  He gives some great insight into the mentality of the players and the focus on growth and improvement. 

In the book he quotes one of his players, Joe Burger, who gave some key insight into their successful season.  He said, “Coach Fickell talked to us so much more about the process than the final destination.”

To me this is important.  Focusing on the process allows you to put all of your effort on the things that you can do to improve.  It gives clear instruction on what to do in order to reach a desired level of success.

The next time you are setting goals, whether personally or professionally, remember to focus on the process.  If you can stay focused on the process you can start to improve and make progress in the direction you desire.