Focus on your process, rather than overall goals
14 February 2014 | By Catherine Wheatcroft
I have recently finished reading a book by Darren Roberts on ‘How triathlon ruined my life’. It is about Darren’s journey from a fat, bald, northerner (his description of himself!) to deciding to do something as stupid as an Ironman competition.
This book is not about how to train, what kit to wear or tips on completing something as serious as an ironman, but takes you through the journey that Darren took to arrive at his goal…to successfully complete a 2.4 mile swim in open water, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run, in that order and with no break in between…in 6 months!
His book talks about the mental and physical journey he took each day, every day to chip away as his end goal and how he followed a process to get to where he wanted to be. I would argue that this process was self inflicted pain and it was, but he says that by entering an Ironman you set something in motion which cant be stopped, and he writes…
‘An Ironman isn’t a 10km run or a half marathon you jog around with your friends dressed as a polar bear or wearing a charity t-shirt. You can’t just knock a few sessions out in the weeks before and bluff it on the day!’. Darren says that an Ironman is unlike anything you’ve done before; training for an Ironman isn’t really ‘optional’.
The point of this summary of Darren’s book (a great and inspirational read by the way) is that whilst he may have had a goal at the end, his focus on his journey was on a process that he followed. Anyone in business will have goals, what they want to achieve and where they want to be in a year, five years etc.
I have always set goals for my business, and myself how many miles I would cycle, what clients I wanted for my business. But I have come to realise that there is a better way to approach things.
It all comes down to the difference between goals and processes. So what is the difference?
- If you are a business owner, your goal might be to earn £100,000 per year. Your process is your marketing and sales approach.
- If you are a runner, your goal might be to run a marathon. Your process is your training schedule for the months ahead.
- If you are a writer, your goal will be to write a book. Your process is your writing schedule each week.
So if you ignored you end goals and just focused on the process you will use to get there, will you achieve the results you want? I believe that you will.
That is not to say that goals should not exist, as they are great for planning your progress, but the process of achieving your goal is best for actually making progress. It is the well-designed process that you commit to every day…that will win.
So why should we focus on the process instead of goals?
Goals can be stressful
Sometimes choosing a goal places a huge burden on our shoulders and if your goal is to earn £100,000 this year, then just thinking about generating that sum stresses me out!
But we do this a lot through our goals and leave ourselves feeling that we are not there, have not achieved and not been a success, until we have conquered the huge goal we set ourselves. So you should keep things simple by focusing on the process of getting there and sticking to your process, rather than worrying about the big life-changing goals.
Goals don’t fit with longer-term processes
If you set a goal and you don’t reach it, you can feel like you have failed. This means that you start down grading your goals, set your sights lower or stop having goals altogether. But by setting a process in place to follow every day, you are more likely to reach your goal. A simple process to follow every day that draws you nearer to success is much easier to carry out, more motivating because you see yourself ‘achieving’ every day and easier to keep track of in terms of results.
Trying to write a business book is a classic example of this. If a typical book is 60,000 words, you would not be wrong in thinking this was not going to be achievable. You may never get started because it is way too big to comprehend as a goal. But if you wrote a business article twice a week, every week of say 500-1000 words each…you will have your book in less than 12 months.
Goals are difficult to track in themselves
We can all set ourselves big goals for the year and then find that 4 months in, we are no nearer to achieving it…but now only have 8 months left!
By having a process in place that can be followed every day, we are able to quickly monitor and track progress. If something is not working well, we can quickly adapt our approach, add to the process or change a method. We can do this because we know where we are at any given point against our process. By building a process to follow, you will have a clear signal of when you need to make adjustments.
So whilst we all need goals and they provide us with direction and focus, the process you use to achieve your goals is what matters. Your only real challenge now is to commit to the process in the first place!
Do you need help setting out your process or are you already ‘behind’ with your goals this year? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me for a helpful starting point chat on 07895 389919.