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Goal Setting: Outcome vs Process

healthy man under process goals drinking water, unhealthy man under outcome goals eating pizza

When it comes to achieving fitness goals, many people focus on the end result - losing a certain amount of weight, running a specific distance, or lifting a certain weight. These desired outcomes are known as outcome goals, and while they can be motivating, they often lead to frustration and disappointment if they are not achieved.


In contrast, process goals focus on the actions and behaviors that will lead to the desired outcome. Instead of fixating on the end result, process goals prioritise the journey and the steps taken to get there. This approach can be much more effective for achieving long-term success in fitness, as it promotes consistent, sustainable habits and behaviors.

Here are some examples of outcome goals versus process goals in fitness:


Outcome Goal: Lose 5kg in 3 months

Process Goal: Exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week and track food intake in a food diary


Outcome Goal: Run a 10K race in under an hour

Process Goal: Follow a training plan that gradually increases mileage and incorporates speed work and rest days


Outcome Goal: Bench press 80kg

Process Goal: Strength train consistently, focusing on proper form and gradually increasing weight and reps


As you can see, process goals focus on the daily actions and habits that will eventually lead to the desired outcome. By prioritising the process, you are more likely to establish healthy habits that you can sustain over time, rather than engaging in extreme or unsustainable behaviors in an attempt to reach an outcome goal quickly.


Another benefit of process goals is that they allow for flexibility and adaptability. Life happens, and it's not always possible to stick to a rigid outcome goal. However, if you have a process goal of exercising for 30 minutes a day, you can still achieve that goal even if you need to adjust your schedule or routine.


Of course, this isn't to say that outcome goals aren't important. It can be motivating to have a clear end goal in mind, and it can provide a sense of accomplishment and pride when you reach it. However, you must still remember that process goals are the foundation that will support your success in the long run.


In summary, when it comes to goal setting, both outcome goals and process goals have their place in fitness. However, by prioritising process goals and focusing on the daily habits and behaviors that will lead to success, you will be more likely to achieve your desired outcome and maintain your progress over time.

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