Finding goals is one of the most rewarding things we can do. They help us feel happy and accomplished. Goals are an investment in our happiness. It's hard to stay motivated to do anything day after day if we don't have a goal. However, not all goals have been created equal.
Outcome goals are based on the results you are looking to achieve. In contrast, process goals can help you identify, document and work on your strengths and achievements to help improve yourself so you are more effective and productive.
In order to understand the difference between process goals and outcome goals, we need to look at the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset.
We all have a certain mindset – whether we’re aware of it or not. A fixed mindset means that you believe your intelligence and talents can't be developed over time.
The idea of a growth mindset has been popularized by psychologist Carol Dweck. She found that adults with this type of mindset do better in the workplace because they were more motivated and resilient. They were also more risk-taking because they believed they could improve their intelligence and talents with work and time.
For example, you might have a fixed mindset about school, and believe that you'll never get good grades because you're just not born intelligent. With this type of mindset, you'll believe that if you're not good at something, you'll never be good at it.
In her seminal work, Dweck states that
“Students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching, and persistence.”
With a growth mindset, you'll approach challenges with an open mind - believing that you can change and improve. This will help you redefine success - something that 45% of workers struggle to quantify at the end of each day.
Here are three things you can do to revert from a fixed to a growth mindset:
- Accept failures as lessons and reflect on the positives
- Get out of your comfort zone to get used to discomfort
- Recognise and address any negative self-talk
Similarly, people who have developed a growth mindset will focus on process goals more than outcome goals.
Process goals focus on the journey that will take you to achieve a specific result goal. They are a way to build on your strengths and to continually grow your abilities as you develop into a better YOU.
Process goals are another way for you to get more done within the time you’re given. Whereas, outcome goals focus on specific milestones that are not fully within your control.
By being focused on why you want to achieve a determinate milestone and letting go of how you'll be able to create a journey that works for you.
Let's say you want to spend more time running in the morning ahead of a race. Each run you do, you treat it as a lesson and victory in itself, instead of seeing it as nothing but means to a bigger outcome, the actual race.
Process goals are about showing up and enjoying the process, regardless of the outcome, knowing that showing up is part of success and what cultivates everyday happiness.
Next time you are setting a goal for yourself, break it down into the different steps you are looking to achieve and reflect on how you can enjoy the journey to the next milestone in your life.
Allow yourself to enjoy the journey and learn from it.