Outcome vs process goals

Goal setting is a buzz word that is thrown around in the fitness industry.

What do you want to achieve? For many, it’s a difficult question to answer with their response being more grey than black or white. They want to feel better, they want to move better, they want to look better (yes, let’s be honest this is still often a lot of people’s motivation to exercise and is still valid). Big outcome goals like this are great, but they can feel very far away from someone who is just starting out on their exercise journey.

I’m a big fan of process goals. I believe they are the missing link between people achieving their ultimate outcome goal and I feel one rarely works without the other. Loosely defined, outcome goals are a result you’d like to achieve be it simply feeling better in yourself or getting a deadlift PB, and process goals are the processes you will need to repeatedly follow to achieve that result.

You need clear outcome goals to clarify your end destination, so that you have the motivation of seeing where you’re headed. An analogy would be; outcome goals are like driving towards the coastline. You can see the beautiful beach you’re headed for and you just need to take a few turns to get there. Working without them, in contrast, can feel like driving in a dark tunnel. You are still moving towards something but there is no clear outline of what you’re headed for.

In this analogy, process goals are your map. They’re the twists and turns that you need to navigate to finally ‘reach your beach’ hence why they’re so important. Quantifying what you actually need to do to achieve your outcome goal is key to you understanding the practices you need to apply to get there.

So, today I challenge you to write out 1 or 2 outcome goals; these could be as simple as getting to the gym 3 times a week or as big as running a marathon. Once you’ve got this in mind, take a step back and then write 5 process goals of how you are actually going to get there. Not only can this help clarify how you’re going to achieve your goals, but it can focus your mind to achieving it.