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The Power of Choice - Behavior vs. Outcome-Based Goals

Updated: Jul 21, 2022


In my experience, goal-oriented and intentional people tend to be more successful, happier, and more productive.

However, it helps to bear in mind that setting and achieving goals in itself is a skill. Like any skill, there is a learning curve. There are both effective and ineffective ways to approach goal-setting. There are countless planners and time-management systems. The truth is that unless you have clarity around the things you realize must change, then meaningful change remains an elusive thing that stays out on the horizon instead of pursued with intention step-by-step.

One thing you might find helpful is separating your goals into behavior-based and outcome-based models.

Two Main Types of Goal Setting

When it comes to goal setting, there are two main types of goals: behavior-based and outcome-based. Most people tend to focus on outcome-based goals, which is why so many people fall short of their targets.

In this blog, we'll explore the difference between these two types of goals, and explore how to set effective intentions with either type of goal. Let's get started with a simple overview of both types.

Behavior-Based Goals

Behavior-based goals are typical changes you make in how you act. For instance, handling stress better, being nicer to others, and spending less time procrastinating are all examples of behavior-based goals. These goals focus on how you personally feel and behave, rather than just looking purely at the outcome of your actions.

Behavior-based goals play into outcome-based goals, but they aren’t the same. When you change how you think and feel, often you’ll notice a change in results. But that’s not the focus, it’s just a pleasant side-effect.

In order to make behavior-based goals, you’ll need to reflect on how you feel when you’re completing a certain task. Do you get snippy with coworkers in the mornings, or feel tired when you’re trying to meet a deadline?

How Emotional Self-regulation Comes Into Play

Focusing on the way you feel can let you know where you are emotionally. Emotional self-regulation makes it possible to maintain calm composure in stressful times, so your life experience can become more inspired, embodied, and productive.

Behavior-based goals can also help improve how you are showing up in the world. Just as your choice in behavior can make you more repellent to some, your choice in behavior can also make you more magnetic. The point is that you have a choice. You can always choose helpful behavior-based goals.

Outcome-Based Goals

Outcome-based goals are changes you make to your performance. For instance, answering your emails faster, reducing the number of errors you make, and getting projects done on time are all outcome-based goals. They focus on the outcome of your actions, rather than how you feel about performing your tasks.

Outcome-based goals tend to be easier to quantify. You can count the number of emails you respond to before lunch, and you can keep track of the amount of time you spend on a certain project. For this reason, most people focus on making outcome-based goals. After all, your progress is so much simpler to quantify.

Making Them Work Together

The real key to success is melding behavior-based goals with outcome-based goals. Often you can get to the root of a problem by changing your behavior, and then watch as your outcomes change. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the two, and that’s okay. Just don’t lose sight of the fact that your performance is a mix of both. Having the right mindset is just as important as working hard if you want to succeed.

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