Aim for Process Goals
Just over a year ago, I stood on top of Mount Rainier after five days of learning from and climbing with the best. Glacier travel. Self-arrest practice. Building snow walls so you don’t get blown off the mountain. Not showering for a week. Pooping in blue plastic baggies. Packing out said baggies. The experience was incredible. Well, maybe not those last few bits. Being in the elements, carrying a fifty-five pound pack, and moving up the mountain roped together was difficult to say the least.
Most of the time we focus too much on outcome-based goals and end up sabotaging ourselves along the way. Some examples are:
Getting to the top of Mount Rainier was a destination goal. I wanted to end up in a certain place. These goals don’t all have to be physical destinations though. For example, you may want to weigh 25 pounds less than you do right now. That’s a destination. To be in a different “place” physically. Another example might be a certain dollar amount in your bank account. That’s a destination.
Competitive or Performance Goals
In a race for example, you not only want to finish (destination) but you want to perform better than you did last time or beat a competitor who usually gets the best of you. Of course, this translates to other aspects of life like sales or getting that promotion.
There are several problems with setting outcome goals as your main targets. First, there are too many uncontrollable factors that could affect the outcome. What if a blizzard forces an extended stay at Camp II? What if your company begins to lay people off? What if the market crashes (again)? Second, outcome-based goals are black and white. Either you achieve them or you fail, and this kind of focus can lead to decreased enjoyment and eventually burnout.
Process goals, however, are quite different. Before I even arrived at the base of the mountain, I needed to lose a quite a bit of weight. Topping out at 273, it was daunting to even consider climbing a mountain. Losing that amount of weight in and of itself is a huge goal. But instead of focusing on the outcome-based goals, I focused on the process. “I will climb the stairs of the twenty-story building today.” “I will plan my meals for the week.” “I will go for a run.” “I will make a better choice when I’m out at the restaurant with friends.”
When you focus on the process and making better choices, you actually end up reaching your destination and performance goals. In the past few months, I’ve revised my triathlon goals a few times. I’ve renegotiated them with myself due to time constraints and family priorities. But, because the destination for me isn’t the end all, I’m ok and don’t feel guilty. I still get on the bike, still run and am still making better diet decisions. Why? Because that’s part of the process of living a healthy lifestyle which is really what I’m after.
I’ve got some areas of my life that I’m frustrated with right now. I’d really like to be in a different “place.” So, I’m looking for ways to focus on the process so it doesn’t get overwhelming.
What about you? What’s been on your list for years? You know, that thing you feel guilty about because you’ve not accomplished it yet and it just stares at you. Well, don’t look at it. Look at the small thing in front of you. The thing that will move you towards it. Focus on that. And then tomorrow and the next day and the next…“rinse and repeat.” You’ll get there before you know it.
Love the person not the ideal…
A couple weeks ago, my wife and I celebrated fourteen years of marriage. By no means a veteran couple of decades. But, I can say after fourteen years of great joys and quite a few disappointments, the loss of a child and the toll it takes on the relationship, we have learned a lot.
One of the things we’ve learned is to love the person and not the ideal.
You know… the ideal of marriage or the ideal of who you think that person is or should be.
1 ideal flying weather: perfect, best possible, consummate, supreme, excellent, flawless, faultless, exemplary, classic, model, ultimate, quintessential. ANTONYMS bad.
2 an ideal concept: abstract, theoretical, conceptual, notional; hypothetical, speculative, conjectural, suppositional. ANTONYMS concrete.
3 an ideal world: unattainable, unachievable, impracticable, chimerical; unreal, fictitious, hypothetical, theoretical, ivory-towered, imaginary, illusory, idealized, idyllic, visionary, utopian, fairy-tale. ANTONYMS attainable, real.
1 no woman could be the ideal he imagined for himself: perfection, paragon, epitome, shining example, ne plus ultra, nonpareil, dream.
Most of the time when you marry, you don’t know who you are, much less who the other person really is. And, marriage is going to change you. It’s going to change them. More accurately, it’s going to reveal the true person versus the person you’ve created in your head.