Going through the goal-setting process increases your chances of success and getting results. However, not all goals are the same. One way to classify goals is by determining if they are outcome or process goals.
Here are the differences between outcome and process goals, along with a brief look at figuring out which type is better for you and the results you seek.
An outcome goal is all about an outcome or an end result. Outcomes goals tend to be broader objectives, like “lose twenty pounds,” or “run a half marathon.” Setting a clear outcome goal helps you clarify your end destination or where you’d like to eventually end up.
While outcome goals are necessary to point you toward a specific direction, you may get stuck and not see the results you’re after by only setting outcome goals. Because an outcome goal is focused on the final destination, it’s easy to get caught up with only thinking about the finish line. So much so that you lose sight of how you’ll actually get there. How do you plan on losing twenty pounds, or how will you run 13.1 miles?
Outcome goals work best with process goals. Process goals focus on how you’ll achieve your outcome.
It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that process goals focus on a process. This type of goal centers around the daily behaviors you need to repeatedly and consistently carry out to make something happen. These types of goals answer the question of how you’ll lose that weight or finish your race.
Another benefit of setting process goals is that they create multiple opportunities for you to celebrate progress. Unlike an outcome goal where you only have a single chance of success, you can celebrate each time you stick to a desired process, behavior, or action. Processes also tend to be more in your control. Rather than getting frustrated about inconsistent results due to events beyond your control, you’re more likely to experience consistent results.
So Which is Better? Process vs. Outcome
Despite the benefits of setting process goals, both process and outcome goals are critical to your success. When you’re only focused on the process, you can still get stuck. It’s necessary to identify how you’re going to achieve an outcome. But you must also be specific about your final destination with an outcome goal. Without that clarity, you’ll probably end up spending a lot of time and energy only to end up somewhere you never intended.