The holy trinity of goal setting

The holy trinity of goal setting

The end goal, the performance goal, the process goal. Depending on your personality, you’ll likely prefer one type over the other two.

When setting my own goals, I am all for process goals. I do use the other two as well. But when I get fixated on the end or the performance goal, I become a jittery ball of anxiety.

Maybe you’re the opposite and tend to ignore the process goals. Either way, too much focus on one type of goal is often what holds us back from achieving what we set out to do.

In the perfect goal setting scenario, we’d all set a goal or two in each of the three categories.

The end goal

Probably the most straightforward goal to set. Regardless of your personality.

Some examples of end goals:

– Climb the Everest base camp and return without dying (or getting someone else killed)
– Return playing weekend soccer after an injury
– Do activities with the family on the weekends without knee pain
– Complete three weekly workouts with moderate intensity without feeling wiped out afterwards

The end goals are usually where people get carried away and set the bar way too high. By trying to do the impossible: Win Jean-Claude Van Damme in a dance-off.

Or by setting a goal that’s next to impossible to reach in the given timeframe: Punch my shadow six weeks from now.

You get the idea. Demotivation ensues.

The performance goal

This can easily overlap the end goal category. Especially when the end goal is also a performance goal.

Some performance goal examples:

– Reduce the time of the biweekly 20km hike. Gradually increase the backpack to 20kg
– Run sprints and practice cutting without soreness in the operated leg
– Do sets of goblet squats pain free and complete a one full push up

If your end goal is more along the lines of a performance goal, I’d encourage to find a lower level performance goal as well. Something that can act as midway mark. Or two thirds way mark. Or six eights way mark.

Any fraction really that feels worthy of doing.

The process goal

It’s all well to set ambitious end and process goals. But without actionable process goals, they’re just distant dreams.

Good, focused process goals build the path to the end goal.

And when you struggle or when the end goal feels like a distant relative you’ve never met, the process goals can carry you through. They help you focus on the present.

– Take 5 minutes to meditate each day
– Show up for 2-3 weekly strength workouts
– Practice push ups each day
– Eat a carrot and an orange each day (why not?)

And I know this has been beaten to death but…

When setting any kind of goals, use the SMART goal setting principles. As, sigh, incorporated as it sounds:

Specific: Is your goal simple and unambiguous to define?

Measurable: How do you know when you arrive?

Achievable: Do you have what it takes to get there? Time, resources…

Realistic: See above about JCVD dance-off.

Timely: When are you going to get there (for end and performance goals)? When are you going to do it (for process goals)?

Here’s the juice of it

When setting your health and fitness goals, aim for a goal or two in all three categories:

1. The end goal
2. The performance goal
3. The process goal

Using the SMART goal setting principle. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely.

– J

And here’s a tune to kick off the weekend. Her voice is something else.

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