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Three Types of Goals Understanding the Difference

Process of steps to achieve your desired goals.

There are three types of goals that you can work towards, and the right kind will depend on your personal situation and needs. Each type serves its own purpose, so you’ll want to understand them before choosing one to pursue.

When it comes to achieving the goals you want to achieve, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the options available. When you set yourself a goal, whether it’s weight loss or starting your own business, how do you decide which type of goal will best help you achieve your objective?

You may have heard the terms process, performance, and outcome goals before, but do you know the difference between each? In this blog, we’ll go over the difference between each type of goal and how you can use them to help you succeed in your work life and in your personal life. The best part? You can easily turn any outcome goal into a process or performance goal and vice versa! Let’s start with outcome goals...

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What is Goal Setting?

First things first, what does “goals” really mean? Goals do not need to be majorly challenging or massive.

Goal-setting is a process of defining stages to reach your desired outcome. Although people have different reasons for setting goals, one thing remains certain: goal setting has an enormous effect on our success in life.

Goal Setting Theory

In the 1960s, psychologist, Edwin Locke and his colleague, Gary Latham pioneered the goal-setting theory.  Locke was intrigued by something Aristotle the greek philosopher speculated "that purpose can cause action".

Locke's 1968 article "Toward a theory of task motivation and incentives" clearly showed that with clearly defined goals, working toward a goal and relevant feedback is a major source of motivation. The research discovered that is one of the easiest and simplest ways to increase motivation and overall productivity. Also, the more difficult the goals the harder people tended to work to achieve them so increasing productivity.

Benefits of Setting Goals

Short and long term types of goals offer great benefits, including:

Motivation - Working toward a goal
Focus and Purpose - Know what you need to do and why you are doing it.
Performance - A higher level of performance
Satisfaction - Personal achievement
Development - Develop new skills, strategies and tactics.

So you’re convinced that it’s a good idea to set goals, but how do you actually do it?

Three Types of Goals Checklist

In goal setting, goals are generally classified into three types of goals: outcome, performance and process.
Outcome Goals

Those things you want to achieve or get such as losing five kilograms in a month.

Performance Goals

Focused on what you need to do to accomplish your outcome goals, such as running daily for twenty minutes.

Process Goals

Focus on how you do something rather than what you do. Process-oriented goal statements are typically found at beginning of a task and can be used as reminders throughout a task.

Difference between Types of Goals

To set a goal, you first need to identify what area of your work or life you want to improve and what type of goals would work for you?

Process Goals

Set process goals, or outcomes that are based on specific actions and tasks that you complete. These types of goals are fantastic for team development because they set clear expectations for everyone to follow. Establishing process goals also helps your business avoid unnecessary redundancies and increase productivity by focusing on what matters most. Think about it: if everyone knew exactly what had to be done and by when, it would be much easier to hold people accountable for their work, right?

Here’s an example: I will learn a new language in 4 months

Performance Goals

These are goals that provide a means for measuring performance and far more short term goals and set a clear timeframe. It is about laying out the path you plan on taking to get to your goal. Defined milestones that you have complete control over.

They can help you know how well your employees are doing their jobs and whether they need improvement in any given area. When used correctly, performance goals can be a powerful motivational tool. To create them, you’ll first want to consider exactly what an employee needs to do on a regular basis to excel at his or her job. Next, you’ll want to specify what level of competence is expected; perhaps he or she must meet certain sales numbers each week or complete a certain number of projects by a specific deadline.

Example: Develop new job skills and knowledge, be punctual, improve work quality and perhaps use own initiative on tasks

Outcome Goals

Outcome goals need everyone in the business to work together to achieve the set goal because quite often their specific milestones might need everyone to contribute something and be out of your control as an individual.

Outcome goals require patience and more about the end result like winning a gold medal. We can become obsessed with the outcome results you are looking for you can forget about the process that needs to be followed to get there.

Example: Increase turnover by $100K a year, increase market share, customer satisfaction or improve business processes to increase productivity and efficiency.

Goal Setting Methodology

Goal setting started with the theory of goal setting back in the 1060s. There are several different goal-setting methodologies to choose from. It’s crucial to select one that works for you and your personality type, as well as your industry or field. While there are several tried-and-true methods available:

SMART Goals: SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely

CLEAR Goals: CLEAR is an acronym for concise, measurable, elaborate, attainable, and relevant.

OKR Goals: OKR is an acronym for Objectives and key results to organise and define goals.

Five Tips for Setting Personal Goals

The following are five simple steps that will get you on your way to setting and achieving goals:

  • What are my three top personal or professional priorities for this year?
  • Which goals would I like to achieve in each priority area?
  • How will I measure progress towards each goal?
  • What is one action that I can take right now to move closer to one of my goals?
  • If a friend asked me, What have you done over the past week in relation to your goals?, what would I say?

I hope we have inspired you to start setting goals and what the different types of goals there are that might help you both personally and in the workplace.

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