Any change is hard. Big changes are even harder. If that weren’t true, everything in each of our lives would already be perfect.
And, change takes commitment over a long period of time. If you’re searching for a better job, you might send hundreds of resumes before you get a job offer. If you’re getting in shape, you may work out dozens of times without any apparent physical change.
It’s easy to find motivation when you’re just getting started. But, how do you stay engaged for the long haul, when you’re months in and the end goal is still no where in sight?
I started high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, late last year. I knew going into it that most people don’t stick with exercise routines, and I wanted a way to improve my odds.
So, I didn’t set an ambitious, purpose-driven goal like lowering my body fat 3% or running a 6-minute mile. Instead, I set a very simple goal: Show up at the gym every single day for 10 weeks. To declare success, I just needed to open the gym’s front door and step inside.
Why? Showing up was smallest task I could think of that was entirely within my control. And, I knew once I got to the gym, the high-energy instructor would take care of the rest.
It worked. I made it to the gym 47 times (out of 50). I know this because I kept a scorecard, which provided evidence of my progress and some small victories I could celebrate along the way (even when I didn’t look any different physically).
Showing up every morning is a process goal, whereas losing 20 pounds is an outcome goal. Outcome goals can be exciting, ambitious, and bold. They can fuel your competitive spirit, and they can rally and inspire.
But, its process goals that help get you through the long slog of driving transformational change when the payoff is still out of range.