Posted on 28 January, 2019

Process-Based vs. Results-Based Goal Setting: Which is Better and Why?

By Jacob Andreae in Change, Challenge, Exercise, Health, Fitness Process-Based vs. Results-Based Goal Setting: Which is Better and Why?

While out for a run recently, I realised I’ve been going about goal setting all wrong. Like many, I’d set goals like “lose x number of kilos in x amount of time”, or “run x distance in x amount of time”. It was all about the result.

As many of us do, I over-indulged over the Christmas break and wanted to lose a few kilos and get back to the healthier-version of myself I’ve become quite fond of. One of my preferred types of exercise is running, so I downloaded the Nike Run Club app and signed up for the 60k challenge — to run 60km in the next month. Unwittingly, I’d changed the way I would set goals forever.

Don’t focus on the scoreboard, focus on the process.

Goal setting isn’t so much about achieving the target as it is about moving towards being the person you want to be, and living the life you want to live. Whether you achieve the target or not really is irrelevant. The target merely gives you direction.

I knew I could run 3km in one go quite comfortably. The first few times might be a bit of a struggle to get back into it again, but I knew it was a distance easily attainable for me. And wanting to make running a regular part of my routine again, I decided to commit to 5 days a week for 4 weeks.

I knew that if I could run 3km 5 times a week, that would be 15km for the week; and if I could run 15km a week for 4 weeks, that would be 60km for the month — the challenge I’d decided to aim for, and I’d have built a solid foundation for my new routine. I still didn’t have a goal as such. If you had asked me, it would have been to lose 5kg in the next 5 weeks.

While out for my run one day, I had this realisation. I knew I wanted to lose weight, feel better about myself and get that energy back that gave me the spring in my step. The goal was to get back down to 70kg. But I had this desire to achieve the 60km I’d challenged myself with. And it hit me.

All of a sudden, I remembered a concept from my time working with sporting teams. Don’t focus on the scoreboard, focus on the process. Take care of the process and the scoreboard will take of itself. The number on the scales was the score. Running each day was the process. I’d forgotten this fundamental concept.

I knew I wanted to lose some weight. I also knew I wanted to reduce my body fat percentage, waist circumference, and increase my muscle mass percentage. However, more importantly, I knew I wanted to make exercise an integrated part of my life again.

How to Create Your Process-Based Exercise Goal

  1. Choose an activity that you enjoy
  2. Select a time, distance or number that challenges you but is achievable
  3. Commit to the number of days you believe you can realistically commit to
  4. Work out how you can measure that over 4 weeks
  5. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat

By focussing on my process-based goal of running 5 times a week, I knew the scoreboard would take care of itself. Not only did I lose weight but I lost body fat, reduced the circumference of my waist, increased strength and stamina, felt better about myself, felt much happier and had heaps more energy — all the things I wanted. Essentially, I won the game!

What is your results-based goal?

Let’s see if we can establish a process-based goal for it together.

About Jacob Andreae

About Jacob Andreae

I write and speak about Fitness, Nutrition and Mindset. 

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Process-Based vs. Results-Based Goal Setting: Which is Better and Why?A quick start guide to losing weight and staying on track. Learn the strategies I use to eat and move for optimal health. Includes worksheets to enhance your motivation, commitment and discipline, along with a sample eating plan and exercise program.