Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Basics: Types of Goals

There are broadly two types of goals: outcome-oriented goals and process-oriented goals. Both are broadly similar - they are what you aim to accomplish. But they approach it from opposite ends.

A outcome-oriented goal describes what you want to happen. "I will lose 20 pounds this year" or "I will drop to 10% body fat by May 1st" or "I will deadlift 450 pounds" are all examples of outcome-oriented goals. They focus on the results you want to achieve, not the way you achieve them . . . or even if they are realistic.

A process-oriented goal describes a way you want to proceed. "I will eat breakfast every morning" or "I will follow (such-and-such program) for 6 months" or "I will work out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday." It doesn't set a goal based on where you will get, but how you will get there.

Setting Goals. Generally when people ask me about setting goals, I prefer they set some process-oriented goals as well as outcome-oriented goals. Aiming to drop to 200 pounds, and saying you'll do it by working out 2x a week and doing a specific diet change (for example, dessert only on Sundays, more protein and healthy fats), is an example of the kind of mix I like to see.


The outcome-oriented goals tell you when you've arrived. As they say, if you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there. You need to know when you've accomplished your goal. However, the downsides of an outcome-oriented goal are that a) it doesn't tell you how to get there and b) it's not always possible to reach the goals you set. It can be tricky to know what a good goal is. For some people, "deadlift 450" might be a never-happen experience, while for others they may get it easily, and you might not know which of those you are.

The process-oriented goals tell you how to get there. If you're committed to following Westside for Skinny Bastards 3 or 5-3-1 or Starting Strength for 3 months, you know what to do. Without an outcome-oriented goal, you don't know if you've achieved what you want to achieve or not. But these goals are easier to implement day-to-day. If you say you are going to eat breakfast every day and you skip it today, you know you're undermining your goal.

The combination is potent. What are you goals, and how to they work together to get you where you want to go, and define the road you'll travel to get there?

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