Why your goal setting fails - Do this instead

blog Oct 08, 2014

Thanks to http://www.entrepreneur.com/ for posting this video on youtube

We all want to achieve more in life - being a better coach, winning a championship, reducing stress, making more money, etc.

How do you get there? Typically, we start by goal setting. We figure out what we want, write that on a piece of paper and commit to it. Recently, after my wife had a baby, we set the family goal of getting back in shape.

Guess what - it didn't work. After a few false starts, our goal seemed too difficult and the road too long. Why? We made the mistake of focusing on outcome-based goals, rather than process goals.

I'll explain

Setting the right type of goals is just as important as what goals you set. As a coach, how often do you set goals that aren’t attainable for yourself or your team? Or see your athletes struggle to follow the steps needed to hit their goals?

While setting the goal of winning the division championship is great, if you lose the first few games, your whole team can be demotivated. So instead of setting a big pie in the sky goal, focus on goals that reinforce the right daily or weekly activities.

Outcome Goal = Win a championship


Process GoalHave great practices

Why do this? Goals are a motivating force if set correctly. By setting achievable process-oriented goals, you are more likely to motivate and get positive results.

Plus, process-oriented goals:

#1) Make us happier Our brains are hard-wired to keep us in our comfort zone. This makes it hard for us to improve or even maintain a high level of fitness. It takes enormous amounts of willpower (which is a finite resource) to constantly get out of our comfort zone and improve. By creating small goals that we can achieve more frequently, we are setting up a reward system that creates more happiness.

SOLUTION: Integrate process goals as well as outcome goals.


EXAMPLE: Create daily or weekly process goals instead of setting the goal far off in the future. #2)  Are easier to commit to Goals should help motivate your athletes but on a daily basis, it is hard to stay motivated for something in the future. Additionally, if that goal is not attainable or we already completed it, it provides no motivation.

SOLUTION: Commit to the process and you are much more likely to do what you need to do on a daily basis.


EXAMPLE: If our team is committed to having great workouts, even if I'm injured, I can contribute to the team by doing my rehab and being a positive force on the sidelines. #3)  Don't require us to control everything Guess what, we can’t control most of what happens. Want to win that championship? How much of that is in your control? We have very little control on outcome-based goals, which sets us up for failure.

SOLUTION: Build feedback loops into your process.


EXAMPLE: Have each coach and player rate the quality of practice every day (thumbs up or thumbs down). For team-based sports, create a point board where the team or each grouping starts with 10 points. They lose or gain points based on their following of the process (e.g., a teammate missed rehab = -1, an exceptional practice = +2). At the end of the week, evaluate and adjust as needed (or better yet, celebrate if you hit your process goals).

Integrate your goal setting

Outcome-based goals are great for identifying what you want but process goals are the steps to get you there. Therefore, use a combination of outcome-based goals and process goals to create a balanced system. Just make sure to keep these attainable otherwise they will be demotivating.

Execute by leveraging outside experts

Setting the right goals is just one of the steps to building a competitive edge with mentally tough athletes. Just like a proper strength and conditioning program, a professional mental training program incorporates all aspects into a complete training routine. It does this by teaching the right skills and gradually building mental strength through practice, reinforcement and learning. Not only does this result in faster gains, but it also prevents some of the mental issues (inconsistency, loss of confidence, etc...) that take up a considerable amount of coaches time.

At Positive Performance, we provide advanced mental training programs at an affordable price for coaches and athletes. Mental training should be incorporated for all athletes but without a properly designed program it can set an athlete back rather than moving them forward.

"Remember, results aren’t the criteria for success — it’s the effort made for achievement that is most important." -John Wooden

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