Do you know the difference between dreams and goals? The difference between goals and outcomes? It is the thin line between these that can make the difference between hitting or missing your goals. Everyone has dreams, defined as a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep. Daydreams, on the other hand, are a series of pleasant thoughts that distract one’s attention from the present. These are more like a wish list, which remain just that, until you catch on to one of them and get serious about following it through. While a goal is the object of a person’s ambition or effort, an outcome is the result or effect of an action, situation, or event; they set a direction.
If you truly want to achieve your goals, keep the following in mind – the shift in your approach will lead to a leap towards your desired outcome.
What comes first: Goal or Outcome
It is important to be clear about your outcome even before you set your goal. The outcome is going to be the lighthouse giving you direction. Once you are clear about the outcome, you get freedom to work out the process and sometimes even revisit it, if the direction seems wrong. For example, your goal may be to lose 10 kgs of weight, the outcome you want is to be fitter and go trekking with your friends next season. You can then opt to join a gym, go running, try a new diet – whatever works best for you. A goal by itself will not give a sense of happiness unless attached to an outcome.
Well-formed outcomes are stated using positive terms
It is often difficult to know what we want. Negative experiences can dominate our thinking, and we end up focusing more on what we don’t want in life, than what we actually do want. This can be a huge hindrance which prevents one from moving forward.
Ensure they are YOUR goals
Before you embark on your new year goal, just sit back and introspect – why do you want to achieve it? Is it to please your boss or your spouse or because someone else has achieved it – let me give you a guarantee – you will not succeed! Unless the outcome is something you personally care for, it is never going to be enough to drive you. Committing to other people’s outcomes can often cause a rebellious response which results in internal conflict and a greater degree of stress.
SMART Goal planning
If you really want to commit to a goal, spend time planning and ensuring it is a SMART goal – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound. Its great to say “I want to lose weight”, or “I want to get good marks” or “I want to increase my business”; but again, it will remain a dream till you actually define what is the amount or the number you are targeting. Keep it challenging yet bite sized – outcomes can seem overwhelming if not broken down into bite-sized chunks. Track progress intermittently so you can modify the process, if required. It should be relevant to you – the ‘why’ in focus. Giving yourself a deadline just ensures you stay committed.
Align it to your inner compass
Your inner compass is your set of values; your personal standards. Values tell you who you are and what is important to you. They are useful in helping understand whether or not the goal and outcome that you seek is compatible with your personal standards. If what you are targeting is not aligned to your values, you will find yourself holding back, sabotaging your own efforts, finally feeling dissatisfied with your achievement.
Feel and hear your success
Close your eyes and imagine how it will be once you have managed to double the turnover of your business or lose those 10 kgs. Envisage what you will see, hear and feel when you achieve this outcome. Imagine that you have already accomplished this outcome and what that would be like. Doing so gives your brain a great deal of valuable information to keep you motivated.
How will you celebrate success?
How will you know when you’ve fulfilled your outcome? Specific, measurable, sensory outcomes create more of a sense of direction in our minds. Think ahead of how you will pat your own back when you achieve your goal; how will you celebrate before embarking on the next challenge.
To successfully achieve our goals, our outcomes must fit in with the rest of our lives. We have other people to consider, other priorities and important values. Once you are able to tie the outcome to your personal standards and it is something that you truly believe will make you happy, you are half-way there already!