The 3 Types of Goals

Most people set goals in terms of what they want or what they want to achieve. Things like:

  • I want to weigh 75kg

  • Our company will be number onee in our industry

  • I’ll finish a marathon

  • I’ll be Vice President by 40 years old

  • My child will get an A at school

  • I will make £10,000 this month

These are called outcome goals, as you want a desired outcome in a given situation.

It’s great to have these types of goals but what happens if you don’t achieve them? What if you only make £9,950 this month? Or you are 2 kilos short of your ideal weight? Or you become VP at 41?

The risk with outcome goals is that you might not be able to achieve them, despite your best efforts and then you might feel like a failure if you didn’t succeed at your goal. Sometimes achieving a goal is not entirely within our control – for your company to be number one, you can only control what you can control. You can’t control the environment, government or competition. What if Apple decided to support the number two competitor in your industry, putting their brand, money and network against you? You might not achieve your goal of number one this time through no fault of your own!

Hence the other two types of goals: performance goals and process goals.

Performance goals are goals that are within your capability and control. For a run is would be run 5km in 30 minutes, for a company it could be to achieve £400mio profit.

Process goals are like tasks that move you forward towards your desired outcome. For a marathon it would be following a marathon training plan, involving getting out and running 5 times per week. For a company it might be implementing a monthly sales and profit review meeting every month.

So by all means have outcome goals – sometimes these are the goals that inspire or motivate us. And have performance and process goals as well as these are the things often within our control. The performance and process goals are often less exciting and when you have them in place you create routine that will almost force you to hit your goal despite yourself. I never ran a marathon but I did commit to meeting Julie every Monday night at 7pm for years and years and years for a minimum 5 km run allowing me to meet my physical fitness objective. We each knew the other would be there, rain or shine, or -200C, so we couldn’t not show up! That process goal forced a regularity to the effort even when we didn’t feel like it. Now I walk marathons and Julie still runs races decades later!

Anne Taylor, life and executive coach in London can help you define and reach your goals personally and professionally.