Process Orientated Goals
A strategy for making faster progress effortlessly.
In our goal setting process at EP we include an often overlooked element that can transform the process of achieving a goal from arduous struggle to effortless fun. Big statement, but big results await when you include this tactic right from the start.
Most people focus on achieving the end goal. When in this mindset the process can often be overlooked, even though it’s most of the fun, most of the journey and what is actually necessary for progress to occur. Instead, I recommend a shift of focus away from your end goal onto the daily habits and behaviours that are required in order to accomplish those goals. When focusing on the end goal the process becomes a frustration. Want to lose 3 dress sizes? Every day that your focus is on being a size 10 and realising you’re actually a size 16 becomes frustration, it fosters a negative mindset and a negative approach to change, tempts you to try more extreme methods to achieve things faster and keeps your attention on what you want to be but are not.
An alternative would be to focus on leading the lifestyle of people who look like you want to look. In the above example, your focus may be on training 4 days a week, and making exercise a part of your lifestyle. Start by finding something you like doing for its own sake, like a sport. Then look into what types of training can help support you becoming a better athlete in that sport (like strength training) and focus on doing those a few times a week. For example you might enter your first triathlon and start running, cycling, swimming and stretching every week. Then look into how those athletes / people eat. Chances are people who look the way you want to look are mindful about food choices. Athletes who compete in that sport probably all focus on protein intake and a highly nourishing diet, limiting junk intake.
You see, switching your focus to how you need to live in order to achieve your goal keeps your attention on actually doing, week in week out. This takes the focus away from your shortcomings and onto a more positive track, helping to foster a good relationship with your goals and promoting a focus on the journey itself, which in turn allows you to savour the journey a little more, stay the course for longer and adopt a new way of living, rather than another failed goal.
This process also allows you to reconcile internal conflict that often causes the process of pursuing your goal harder than it needs to be. This happens by making you accept what the goal actually requires from you. Here’s the examples we used to use with our young basketball players who wanted to one day be pro:
Goal orientated thinking: My goal is to be a professional basketball player, and enjoy all the money, girls, travel, stardom and opportunities that come with that career. (Typically they were 16 year old boys).
Process orientated thinking: My goal is to train 3 - 6 hours a day in basketball, strength and conditioning. To shun drinking, parties and the usual associated frivolities of 18 year olds, instead focusing on eating brilliantly, and resting and recovering in order to train harder tomorrow. I’ll do this for 4 - 6 years between the age of 16 and 22 in the hope that this hard work and obsession with perfecting a given set of skills and abilities will provide me with a professional career in basketball and all the associated rewards.
One is a pipe dream, the other is a plan that has a chance. One is the musing of a young boy who doesn’t like work, unlikely to be achieved and clearly blue sky thinking. The other is a cold representation of the reality it takes to succeed in elite sports. By looking at it this way, how many boys do you think thought twice about their dreams? How many reconsidered what they wanted to do with their lives? Let me tell you; most of them.
This is an important point: You want to be shredded but don’t want to obsess over food, only want to commit 2 sessions a week to the gym and would quite like to keep your Friday and Saturday drinking with fiends and partners? Change your goal, it’s not happening. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it doesn’t mean the guy or girl with the six pack is worth more than you. It’s ok. But change your goal, because continuing to want something you’re not willing to pursue will only cause you heartache and internal conflict. You need to either accept what’s necessary, make peace with the sacrifices you will have to make and get on with it, or accept that your do not want to live the way is required and therefore will change your goal to something you can commit to.