Recently while exercising, I was listening to the Nike podcast “Trained.” One item about breaking down goals really got my attention and I’d like to share my thoughts on it. Check out the original podcast, released on 1/10/19. The way Justine Thompson, a Nike Master Trainer, discusses breaking down athletic goals is very analogous to how you might want to think about your goals and tackling them with manageable action items (her portion of the podcast is only a few minutes and starts at minute 17). Think about your goals in three categories: 

  1. Outcome goal. This is your desired final result. The podcast example is an athletic training client who wants to be a top-five finisher in a 10K race. Focusing only on this goal ignores outside factors, though, like other competitors’ performance level that day, etc. that could stop you from achieving this outcome goal. When you focus only on this one end goal, you ignore all the steps you need to take to realistically achieve it.
  2. Performance goals. Placing among the top finishers in a 10K means you should shoot for running a 10K in fewer than 40 minutes, which is a performance goal. It’s more controllable than the outcome goal – it’s the key piece of how you’ll achieve the overall result you want.
  3. Process goals. These are most important – they’re your foundation for achieving your outcome goal. These are all about your behavior; they’re 100% under your control. Back to the 10K race, a process goal is committing to training five times a week; another relates to nutrition that supports the training; another one focuses on recovery. They are what you need to do, day-in and day-out. These are process goals.

Suddenly your big, maybe daunting, outcome goal feels more doable – more in your control. You’re also evaluating your success as you go, so after each process goal, you ask: What did I do well? What would I do differently? And you make adjustments if needed.

Of course, everyone has setbacks now and then, but looking back on your process goals, you can confidently say that you did everything you could to achieve your success.

I really love the idea of breaking down goals and when I first heard this, I immediately thought about our Business Development Officers (“BDOs”). From a BDO perspective, those who work on results that come from a long sales cycle, it’s imperative to break down goals, and using outcome goals, performance goals, and process goals could be a great way to do that. Let’s say you are an asset-based lending BDO and your goal is to close on three new large loans for the year. That’s a good outcome goal, but how will you get there? Like the podcast discusses, there are external factors like the economy, competitors’ aggressiveness, etc. that may affect the actual outcome.

Closing three new loans might mean on average you need to issue two term sheets a month. So if that’s more in your control, it might be a good performance goal.

Then on to the good part – the ongoing process goals. Maybe you need to have 30 meetings per month with your Centers of Influence (“COIs”) referral sources. Maybe you’ll want to add one brand new COI to your network every month. Maybe you should have six joint meetings per month with the entity president and COIs or prospects to try to win deals... you get the idea. These process goals are totally in your control every day. Achieving those should lead to the performance you're looking for, and hopefully attain your outcome goal.

While I first thought of how this goal setting applies to a BDO (I’m a sales guy at heart), I think it applies in the same way to virtually any position. So as you go into a new year, consider breaking down your typical annual outcome goals into more controllable performance goals, and totally controllable daily process goals.