"Dream the Process" is the new "Dream Big"
From a young age we are encouraged to set goals and dream big. I remember setting goals as an athlete to make nationals, as a student to graduate college, as a weekend warrior to run a marathon, and as a professional to start a business. These goals were concrete and the steps to achieve them were presented more or less for me. However, as I have gotten older the chase has become harder and less appealing.
In some aspects, I still have things I wanted to accomplish: teach my first course, hike all the 4,000 footers in New Hampshire, buy a house, etc. Other things I am chasing are becoming less concrete, such as be happy, living healthy, and being a good friend. My big goals were becoming overwhelming; to the point where I was giving up on making goals because I had no idea how to actually achieve what I hoped for.
When I finally decided to take a step back, I realized it was not my goals that were the issue, but my lack of a process to achieve them. This is when I dived into the world of process goals. A process goal is creating an approach you want to establish the conditions or path to larger goals. Shifting into the mindset that I could control aspects of my daily routine gave me consistency. My procrastination and discouragement shifted. I no longer felt as though I was falling short of being happy, but discovering my toolset, discovering me, and through that, my big goals are being achieved without me focusing on the end result.
How does one go about developing process goals?
Let’s use the example of writing articles to keep it simple. Let’s say for this scenario my goal is to write 100 articles a year to post on my site.
We can look at it two ways:
Scenario One: 100 articles sounds daunting! If you are a procrastinator at heart, like me, you don’t know where to begin, so you don’t. You convince yourself you have time to “catch up.”
Scenario Two: You establish process goals to change your behavior and create deadlines weekly to achieve your overall goal. For example, I can decide the following:
Every Sunday I will pick 3 topics I am passionate about.
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday – I will write 500 words a day (not perfect words, just a free flow of ideas).
Every Thursday I will pick my 2 favorites days.
Friday I will finalize one draft and Saturday I will finalize the other.
Sunday I will post the 2 final articles.
With this process I have assured I can write 2 articles weekly and can realistically accomplish my goal of writing 100 articles, in fact, I will have written 104!
I know this a brief example, but I am fortunate enough to see how process goals give people success all the time!! In physical therapy, instead of focusing on the goal to return to running an 8 min mile, focusing on the journey allows us to optimize rehab by creating behavior change and achieving success consistently through the process. People are then empowered to make the experience their own, learn how to apply the steps they need to achieve their bigger goal, and develop an appreciation for the efforts they have given.
Creating a life-long skillset is guaranteed by process goals, outcome goals cannot offer the same failsafe that the desired result will happen. Therefore, the next time you are staring at a big goal and are feeling overwhelmed, breathe. Decide to focus on how you will achieve it versus the outcome itself. Let us know how we can help.