Hi, I'm Jan König 👋. I'm one of the founders of Jovo, 28 years old, and live in Berlin. < Go back to learn more.

Why I Choose Process Goals Over Outcome Goals

Happy New Year! Let's chat about a topic that is never spoken about at this time of year: setting personal goals (I'm sorry).

First, some context:

In December, we had the pleasure to host Sam Warnaars at the Jovo office. He even brought his podcast equipment and we recorded some stuff together, which was a lot of fun (more on that later):

One conversation we had was inspired by the purpose of his trip: a presentation at a conference in Berlin. Sam mentioned that his goal for 2019 has been to speak in front of a total of at least 1,000 people. Every event he attended as speaker brought him closer to this goal.

Setting quantitative personal goals

Of course, this is a common topic: a lot of people want to be more productive, do more sports, read more, and publish more content. I'm currently writing this at St. Oberholz and it's way more packed than the previous Monday evenings I've been here. It's probably going to fade out over the next few weeks. Same as with gyms.

"More sports" just isn't specific enough to motivate us over a longer time. A lot of people try to prevent this by setting quantitative goals that help you keep track of your current progress: For example, Alex tries to read 20 books every year. And of course the "speaking in front of 1,000 people" goal mentioned in the introduction is another example.

In theory, quantitative goals make a lot of sense to me. However, I have always been bad at sticking to goals like this.

Different types of goals for different types of people

In my newsletter episode "Personality Types: How to better understand yourself and your team" I talk about my Campaigner personality type and about one of its weaknesses that I also see in myself: While enjoying to look at the bigger picture, I sometimes struggle with breaking it into milestones and tasks needed to reach it.

This also means I'm a huge deadline person (here's a relatable TED talk by Tim Urban), so the "big north star quantitative goal far away" just won't help most of the time.

I still want to grow personally, so what should I do?

Outcome goals vs process goals

If an outcome goal is a quantitative number that you want to reach sometime, a process goal is more of a habit/repetition of actions that bring you there.

It might sound trivial, but for a person like me it makes a huge difference if I tell myself "I want to read 1 book a month" as opposed to "12 books this year." This is why I made most of my goals process goals.

Also, I strongly believe in consistency and having process goals help me prioritize consistency over (fake) perfectionism.

The best of both worlds

What's a process that doesn't get you anywhere, though? If the process goal is "work out 4 times a week," can people really stay motivated if they don't have a clear outcome in mind?

Julian Lehr mixes both types in his goals and uses both process goals (e.g. "swim once a week") and outcome goals ("swim a total of 120km a year"). I think this is the way to go, however it is important there that the outcome goal isn't just a sum of the process goals (e.g. "12 books this year" as outcome and "one book a month" as process).

How about you?

Did you set some personal goals for 2020? Happy to chat about your process!

PS: At first, I wanted to call them total goals, then I found this article: Process Goals vs Outcome Goals: How to Decide.

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