“To achieve an outcome, you have to take action, and that action should be your goal. You can’t directly choose an outcome, but you can always choose to take action.” ~ Pete Michaud
Ask anyone about how to get to success or a successful life and one of the first things they’ll say you have to do is to set goals. Everyone knows to set goals but we don’t do enough or the right ones so we’re not successful…. or we’re doing it wrong.
I think we’re setting goals wrong.
When we set goals, the first thing that comes to mind is the thing we want.
We want 10,000 visitors per month to your website.
We want to lose 20 pounds.
We want $5,000 to pay for the trip next year.
The problem with those goals is they are outcomes. Those outcomes are great to keep in mind but they are not what you should think about on a daily basis to complete your goal.
You need to think about actions.
Blogger and Tech Writer Pete Michaud says it best, “To achieve an outcome, you have to take action, and that action should be your goal. You can’t directly choose an outcome, but you can always choose to take action.”
When you set a goal, write it down. Then ask if it’s an action or an outcome. Actions are things you can do yourself right now. Outcomes are things that happen as a result of what you do.
Writing blog posts is an action. Getting 10,000 visitors per month to your website is an outcome.
Running 45 minutes per day is an action.
Losing 20 pounds is an outcome.
Doing 1 hour extra paid client work per day is an action.
Getting $5,000 to go for your next trip is an outcome.
Can you control it?
Another test I use to see if something is an action or an outcome when I’m setting goals is to ask myself if I can control it. If I can control it then it’s probably an action. If I can’t directly control it then it’s an outcome.
I’m very competitive when I play sports and it’s hard to let go of fact that I can’t control whether we win or lose. Winning or losing is the outcome. I play a part in it, for sure, but a very small part. I can control how much I train and how well I play but I can’t control any other players or the weather or the referee. When I’m setting sports goals or looking how I did, I focus on what I can control. How well did I play? Did I train enough? Did I do everything to the best of my ability? Past that, it’s anyones guess as to who is going to win.
So the next time you sit down to go through the goals you are setting, ask yourself if they are actions or outcomes. If they are outcomes, you’ll want to rewrite them as actions instead. You’ll be much happier with the results.