Everyone said 2021 was going to be a better year. And it certainly looked like it until a couple of months ago. My hometown of Sydney has been in lockdown for a number of weeks and it has forced me to re-evaluate how I set my goals, as some of them won’t be met, and that’s not for lack of effort.
How you set, frame, and execute your goals will make a big difference to your potential results. You need motivation and a plan. With any goal, you don’t always have control over the outcome. However, you do have control over the process, which is where your behavior and actions come in.
Behavior-based goals are goals that are focused more on achievable actions rather than a specific outcome. These goals help you to become the person who can achieve the results you want to achieve. When you create behavior-based goals, the process itself is the focus rather than a specific number, metric, or score.
For example, I set myself a goal of writing a weekly blog for my therapy-coaching practice. It was something that terrified me. How was I going to write a blog each week?, what would the topics be? and more. What I learned in the process of setting that goal was that to set a goal of writing a weekly blog for a year was more dauting than committing to writing a blog each week. Yet, I have almost been doing it for a year! Go figure… Yes, I haven’t always published on a Tuesday like I planned but I have done it each week. And with each week, I have felt more capable than the week before, and this is the advantage of behaviour based goals as opposed to outcome goals. I have also got better at it over time. They now take half the time to write!
If I was planning to convert my blog into a new client each week, I would feel very disheartened because that hasn’t happened each week. What has happened which was unexpected, is that by sharing my thoughts on topics my clients care about, I have been able to share my expertise with the world. A new client recently shared with me how he contacted me instead of someone else because of all the amazing articles in my blog and images on my Instagram feed! That wasn’t my goal but what a wonderful outcome anyway :) .
A behavior-based goal is where you decide the goal you want to accomplish, then determine the actions and behaviors that will move you closer to them. Instead of focusing on the outcome like writing a book, make a decision to write a 100 words per day. Do that for a month, take what you have learnt and increase your output to 500 words, then 1,000 and you are well on your way to wring your book.
When you write down your goal, also write down what you are happy to do and what you will not be happy to do to achieve it. By acknowledging this you will be able to manage your way around those activities you’re not willing to do and maintain control of your activities and behavior to make sure you stay on track with your goal. You are completely in control of whether or not you will continue working towards your goal. No one else has responsibility for them – only you. If you need to change your behavior and thoughts to achieve them, go ahead and make the change.
Behavior-based goals are more motivating because there’s no doubt who is responsible for them, and it creates a positive feeling whenever you achieve a small win along the path to your ultimate goal. Taking this approach teaches you more about yourself, it builds confidence in your abilities and you have the autonomy to make changes along the way. I also believe it changes your approach to being more open to the process than the outcome, allowing for other gains to come forward that you perhaps hadn’t considered but enjoy. The small successes you experience will motivate you to make other positive changes too.
You have a higher chance of achieving your behavioural goal as they are more attainable. Why? Because behavior-based goals eliminate factors that are not within your control. You are not wishing and hoping and being reliant on the actions of others. You are empowering yourself by taking responsibility for the aspects that you can control. That makes it easier to reach your goal without over-complicated challenges getting in your way.
That’s not to say they are easier, far from it. You can still set challenging goals that stretch you. For example, if you’re in sales, rather than focusing on a monthly number to achieve break it down into a number of reconnect calls, networking activities, speculative calls, and introductions per week. Those are all activities you can control that also lay groundwork for future sales, keeping your potential pipeline healthy.
Behavior-based goals enable you to develop new, positive habits and remove any old bad habits or obstacles, which will help you to achieve the results you want. Irrespective of your goals, you can make changes to your behaviors that eventually become part of your daily habits. These good habits will no doubt change your outlook and life, as success breeds success.
Setting goals is an essential part of achieving success. Setting behavior-based goals takes away the pressure of merely achieving results. Your goal attainment becomes as much about the journey as it does the destination.
If you need some assistance setting goals, you may want to read Set Your Goals: It's not too late! where I take you through the SMART goalsetting process which you can still use with behavioural goals.
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