Outcome Goals and Process Goals: You Need Both

by Ron Haynes

Understanding how to set goals helps you achieve them. Stated another way, the right goals, pursued in the right way, leads to positive actions.

bullseye Setting an outcome goal

Outcome goals are big. They’re the “I want to get better at X” or “I want to lose weight” type of goal. An outcome goal is the end result of what you want. It’s the big picture goal. While it’s critical to more adequately define the exact outcome you desire, you can achieve an outcome goal without the exacting detail demanded by most goal gurus. How? By setting a “process goal.”

How a process goal is different

Process goals are the daily mini-achievements that help you move toward your outcome goal. They are the goals that you absolutely CAN control, that you can guarantee reaching. These smaller goals are the building blocks of your outcome goals and they DO need specifics. The more specific, the better. You may have to hit several process goals to achieve your outcome goal. Here’s how these two goals work:

Losing weight

Outcome goal: lose 25 pounds this year.
Process goals:

  • consume no more than 1,500 calories per week, 400 per meal with three small 100 calorie snacks each day
  • exercise for 30 minutes per day
  • eat bread and red meat only once or twice per week

Getting out of debt

Outcome goal: pay off my credit card and one student loan this year
Process goals:

Develop a stronger network

Outcome goal: become better linked and networked
Process goals:

  • identify the people I can help and the people that can help me
  • attend a networking friendly event
  • make one call each day with a networking intent

Making more sales at work

Outcome goal: get 10 new customers each month
Process goals:

  • call 5 new clients before lunch and 5 after
  • pass the new proficiency test for product knowledge by next month

Finding a new job

Outcome goal: find a new job and get hired
Process goals:

  • update my resume, designing it several different ways for different employers
  • prepare for interview questions
  • network with people in my industry to find a job

If you don’t develop your process goals, hitting your outcome goal becomes a matter of fate or fortune. The reason those process goals are important is that you never want to assume that you’ll always be in the same motivated state of mind, that you’ll always be on a goal high, that you’ll always remember why that outcome goal is important.

Process goals let you sneak up on and ambush your outcome goals. Set them right, work on them every day with purpose, and you’ll hit that outcome goal.

Photo by ogimogi

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1003 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.


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