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Last Updated on May 7, 2021

Why Having a Goals Strategy Can Help You Achieve More

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Why Having a Goals Strategy Can Help You Achieve More

The challenge most people have with setting goals is figuring out how to achieve them. Many goals end up abandoned because they become a burden rather than a source of inspiration. When you don’t have a goals strategy, achieving your goals will only be a mirage.

In this article, you will find insight into why you need a strategy for your goals and examples of what you should include in your goals strategy.

What Is a Goals Strategy?

A goals strategy is an approach you take to achieve your set goals[1]. It is a plan of action and a set of tactics you deploy to ensure that you accomplish the things you set out to do.

A goal being pursued without an accompanying strategy will ultimately lead to abandonment or frustration. This is because there are internal and external forces that can work against your goal. Your strategy is meant to help you confront these unforeseen circumstances.

What Your Goals Strategy Should Include

Your strategy should consist of primary plans, contingency plans, tactics, and other initiatives you are willing to take to achieve your goals. Below are examples of things you can include in your goals strategy.

1. An Action Plan

Your action plan is a clear outline of how you intend to achieve your goals. It includes strategic plans and the moves you have to make to achieve your goal in the long term.

For example, if you intend to save up an amount of money over a period of one year, your action plan will include a regular plan of setting aside a certain amount of money. It can also include other details, such as whether or not you will need to open a designated account for savings. The plan can also include how you intend to cut down on some other expenses to achieve your goal.

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2. A Focus on the Process Rather Than Results

One of the best strategies you can deploy to achieve your strategic goals is to focus on the processes involved in achieving your goals rather than the end results. When you focus your energy on the process, you have greater chances of hitting your goals.

For example, if you have a goal to land a new job, your first focus should be on finding opportunities that match your previous work experience.

Once you’ve found a position, your next focus is preparing and submitting an attractive resume and cover letter in order to get called for an interview. If you get called for an interview, your next focus would be giving the interview process all it takes. This will involve researching the company, preparing to give appropriate responses to your interviewers, and portraying yourself as the best candidate for the job.

Your goal of getting a new job will likely come to fruition if you have focused on giving your best at each of the stages mentioned rather than just being preoccupied about getting the job.

3. One Specific Area to Focus on

One of the reasons people often find it impossible to reach their goals, even when they have a goals strategy, is because they run after too many goals at a time. While you can have multiple goals, choosing and concentrating your energy on one goal at a time can make a difference.

Human nature is not wired to perform optimally when its energy is diverted toward too many things at one time. Focusing on an area means prioritizing your goals, taking one thing at a time, and moving on to the next thing when you’ve achieved the previous one.

For example, if you want to improve your business planning, don’t focus on product development, a business strategy, and social media marketing all at once. Take one at a time in order to give your full attention to it.

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4. Contingency Plans

Another strategy you can put in place for your goals strategy are contingency plans. There are many things that are outside of your control that can affect your goals. For example, there can be major socio-economic changes that can affect your goal projections, changes to your living situation, or an unexpected illness.

For example, your investment plan can be affected by an economic recession. If this happens, you will need an alternative plan to be able to achieve your investment goals.

5. Openness to Embracing New Directions

When situations change and a goal seems out of reach, embracing a new direction might be another way to reach your goal.

For example, if you have the goal of occupying a particular position in your organization, and after giving your best, the position is given to someone else, seeking a similar position in a similar organization can be something to think about.

If it is business, and you are not getting results with the kinds of clients you currently have, you might upgrade or downgrade your product/service and focus on a different set of clients.

6. A Miniature Version of Your Goal

It is good to set big goals, but before you launch, test it on a smaller scale. Testing a smaller version of your goal as part of a goals strategy will give you the opportunity to detect opportunities and threats to your goals that you might not have considered before.

This strategy is applicable in business and for individuals. It is what recruiters use as job simulation (a test job) to ascertain how a candidate will perform on the real job. It is what partners practice when they date to get familiar with each other before making a marriage commitment.

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7. Milestones

This looks like the one earlier mentioned about focusing on the process, but there’s some difference. Creating milestones[2] means breaking your goal into actionable units and focusing on achieving each unit at a specific moment.

For example, if you plan on moving your family to a new country for permanent residency, this will require that you at least secure employment in that country. Therefore, your first milestone will be to secure employment that can guarantee you and your family permanent residency. The second milestone is to secure your visa and residency permits, and your third and last milestone will be to plan the logistics of the move.

All of these will come with deadlines or timelines, so add those to your goals strategy.

8. A Competitor

While it is good to work at your own pace, healthy competition can help to bring out the best in you. It can also make you go the extra mile you might not have been willing to go alone.

Whatever it is that your goal is about, you can find someone to compete with. It might be at your workplace or someone you know remotely. A good example of this is found in two great athletes in the game of soccer: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Both players attest to how the rivalry between them has made them better in the game to the amazement of fans around the world[3].

9. An Accountability Partner

If your goal remains with you alone, it is easy to bury it in the pit of procrastination or drown it in the ocean of complacency. However, when you communicate your goals to an accountability partner — someone that is interested in your growth and can challenge you to action — you will often find the motivation to achieve your goals.

For example, when you create your yearly goals, you can have a chat with your accountability partner to challenge you based on your goals and the timeline you have set. To be more accountable, you can schedule a monthly or quarterly goal review meeting with your accountability partner.

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If you still find that you’re struggling with procrastination, despite this support, check out Lifehack’s Fast-Track Class: No More Procrastination.

10. Daily Action

Your goals have to be serviced daily to keep your mind on them, so make this part of your goals strategy. This might be as simple as thinking it over: what you have done and what you can still do to reach your goal. It can also involve taking actions, such as making a phone call, sending an email reminder, or making a request that is connected to your goal.

11. Comfort With Failure

If you don’t mind whether you fail or not, you will give your best to the processes involved in achieving your goals. Sometimes, not being sure of what the outcome might be can prevent us from giving our best because we don’t want our efforts to go down the drain.

However, when we are comfortable with failure, we will give our best to the process, leaving the outcome to emerge on its own. The results of this kind of approach are surprisingly impressive. However, even if it turns out that it truly failed, you will be proud that you gave it your best.

12. A Goal Performance Journal

Have a journal to track your performance, including actions that you took that led to success in the process of achieving your goals. This will not only be useful for your current goal pursuit, but it will also be useful for future goals, as you might need to repeat those actions.

Final Thoughts

Achieving your goals will require more than strategies; you will need to have the courage and determination to pursue your goals in the face of all odds. However, strategies do have their place. They provide the best path you can take to achieve your goals and limit your chances of failure.

More Tips on Achieving Goals

Featured photo credit: Patrick Perkins via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on September 16, 2021

What Are Process Goals? (With Examples)

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What Are Process Goals? (With Examples)

Ready. Set. Go. For years, this was my three-step mindset when it came to goals. I would reach for the moon and hope to land among the stars without feeling the pain of the fall. This approach was all or nothing, and as a result, I experienced loads of burnout and almost zero productivity. In short, my task list was filled with high-level intentions, but I hadn’t taken the time to create a map to reach the destinations. I was lost in the planning stages because I didn’t understand process goals or have any examples to follow.

Since then, I’ve learned how to embrace the journey and break my outcome goals into smaller and more manageable process goals. This approach has improved my focus and reduced frustration because I’m now working towards a surefire strategy that will take me where I want to go––I’m creating a plan of action with achievable daily targets (a process goal).

What Is a Process Goal?

A process goal is not a destination, it’s the path you plan on taking to get there. For example, if you want to become better at writing, your process goal would be to post one blog article per week and learn from the feedback you receive. The destination is a monthly goal of 12 articles.

This distinction is important because it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that these types of goals are not all or nothing. Think about it. You’ve heard it said: it’s not about working hard but working smart.

Well, a process goal is an actionable target with what we call SMART criteria:

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  • Specific – The more detailed your goal, the better. For example, instead of “I want to be fit,” you would say, “I want to lose five pounds.” Make sure your goal is crystal clear.
  • Measurable – You need a way to measure progress and success, so it needs to be quantifiable. This is where you decide what “fit” actually means for you (more on this later).
  • Achievable – If your goal isn’t challenging, then it’s not going to be motivating. On the other hand, there must be a steeper mountain to climb if you want substantial results.
  • Realistic – “I want to run a marathon” is not practical for most people. Ensure you have the time, energy, and resources (e.g., training program) required to achieve your goal.
  • Time-Bound – Your goal needs an assigned deadline or it’s just a pipe dream. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, but what happens when the fantasy ends?

To summarize, these are the essential components of any process goal: specific, measurable, achievable within a certain time frame, and realistic.

What Is a Destination Goal?

A destination goal is a point in time when you plan to be at a particular destination. For example, if your goal is to get to represent your country at the 2025 Summer Olympics, you right need to focus on smaller increments to attain that success. On your way to that goal, you need to focus on smaller destinations. First, make the national team. Then, compete in a few events and so forth.

If you try to make it to the Olympics from the very start without any milestones along the way, it would be too daunting. On the other hand, if you focus on each milestone as a destination goal, it will all seem possible and achievable.

Process Goal Template

Let’s say you want to become a better cook. Here is one way of writing the process goal: “I will save $100 per week by cooking all my meals at home for 12 weeks.” This would be your destination (monthly), and the steps required to achieve this goal (weekly) would be:

  1. Spend one hour on Sunday planning my meals for the week.
  2. Shop for groceries after work on Monday and Tuesday nights.
  3. Cook all meals at home on Wednesdays through Sundays.
  4. Pack my lunch for work on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  5. Save $100 per week in cash by cooking at home.

This process goal will help you become a better cook by teaching you to save money through planning, shopping, cooking, packing your own lunch, and trying new recipes. It also includes a weekly reward (saving $100 in cash) that will help you stay motivated.

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Process goals encourage you to reach your ultimate goals. When you feel like you can accomplish smaller goals along the way, you gain sustainability and confidence to move forward.

In many ways, process goals are a lot like faith. Each accomplishment brings you closer to seeing the fullness of the life that you desire––it breaks through the fog and makes things clearer.

What Questions Helped Me Find My Process Goals?

After several years of setting lofty goals and becoming increasingly frustrated when I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, I decided to take a closer look at my approach.

Now, there are many ways you can do this, but here’s how I went about it. Last year, I asked myself the following questions:

  • What am I doing right now?
  • How can I get better at this?
  • Is this process goal leading me closer to my ultimate goals?

The choices I made from the answers to these questions became my process goals. They were the driving force that kept me motivated and moving forward when I wanted to give up and throw in the towel. Since then, I’ve been able to accomplish lifelong goals that I had given up on years ago. For example, I’ve been able to obtain a publishing contract, create more digital products for my business, and enjoy the moment.

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Before I broke down my goals into smaller ones, I was struggling to just get out of bed. The thought of my endless list kept me stagnant. Now, I look forward to each morning and taking on smaller projects to reach profitable outcomes.

What Are Some Process Goals You Can Try?

So, now that you understand the importance of process goals, let’s get you started with some examples that you can utilize this week:

  • Sign up for a new class.
  • Complete one portion of your project by Thursday.
  • Start walking around the block instead of running a mile.
  • Improve your writing by spending 30 minutes everyday journaling.
  • Practice your interview skills.
  • Read at least one book from the library this week.
  • Do ten push-ups each day before you leave for work.

You get the idea. These process goals don’t have to be complicated. If anything, you want to break down your plans to the point of them feeling easy or at least doable without needing a week’s vacation. By breaking your goals down into smaller pieces, you can accomplish a lot more in a shorter period. You’ll also feel more confident that you’re able to accomplish something within the moment.

It isn’t easy to continue towards your goal if achievement feels too far away. You need to celebrate the small things and embrace the process.

What Do You Need for Process Goals?

Think about how much time and money you’ve spent on new clothes, books, technology, etc. Many of us want to keep up with the latest trends and purchase the best gadgets from Apple or Microsoft. But all of these extra investments come at a steep price.

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To find your process goals, you may have to face some difficult emotions or situations bravely and confront them head-on. You might need to forgo the new outfit or the latest Mac book to meet your overall objectives.[1] Remember, process goals not only protect you from feeling overwhelmed, but they also keep you from being distracted.

Final Thoughts

You may feel overwhelmed at first when trying to set a process goal. Sometimes, just thinking about change triggers stress hormones, which only leads to more worries and anxious feelings. However, if you keep yourself focused and take small steps in the right direction, you’ll soon realize that goals don’t have to be complicated.

You can achieve your process goals one day at a time, and you can start today by breaking down your larger goal into smaller steps. It doesn’t matter if the process takes a week or six months, what matters most is that you’re moving forward and doing something to make yourself better.

Now, go on out there and achieve one of your process goals!

Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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Reference

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