Two very different ways to approach the same situation
Has this ever happened to you?
You want to get a new job. Every day you are sending tons of applications. But no one is getting back to you. After a while of not seeing the results you want, you get discouraged. You feel drained and your motivation hits an all-time low.
Now imagine a different approach: You focus on developing your personal brand and networking with individuals in your target industry. Since you are taking advantage of the time you have for socializing, you are also enjoying the process. You get feedback and your focus is on learning and improving every day.
Which approach do you think is more effective?
The problem with focusing on outcomes
Although it can be motivating to have ambitious goals, I come to learn that an obsessive focus on goals can also be demotivating.
Here are the main problems with focusing on outcomes:
– They are by definition NOT in your control
– Which means that you give external conditions control over your happiness.
– There are only two outcomes: you win or you fail
– Your focus is on results and not the learning process
Sure you can influence the outcomes and work hard to achieve them, but at the end of the day, there are so many factors that influence the outcomes, like other people, luck, timing, the economy, God (if you believe), etc.
You may say “Joanna, but in today’s society, it’s all about results. My boss expects results, and doesn’t care how I make them happen.” And I would answer “yes, we need a certain focus on outcomes, so we have a target and know if we are moving in the right direction. BUT there is a much better way, which will not only boost your motivation but will also increase your performance as a by-product.”
Focus on the progress and ignore the outcomes
Athletes and sports coaches have recognized this for a long time: If you want to increase performance, it’s best to focus on the process instead of the results.
Why a focus on process is better:
– it puts YOU in control
– it makes you more flexible – whatever the outcome will be
– you focus on the present moment and you are less worried about the future
– you can experiment
– you enjoy the journey as much as the destination
– you focus on what really matters: the actions you can take and the things you can actually change
Things that are in your control
In case you are wondering, here are the things that you can control:
– your attitude
– the words you speak
– how hard you work
– how you act with other people
– what you focus on a day-to-day basis
– the meaning you give to things that happen to you (this one is really key! Watch this 1 min. video)
Things that are NOT in your control
Here is a list of things you should let go of:
– whether or not people will buy our product
– how successful we will be with what we do
– what other people think about us, their behavior and actions
– the weather
– natural laws like gravity
Reframe your current challenges
Think about the stuff you are currently worried about. Are they in or outside of your sphere of control?
Next time when you set goals to get…
– your next job
– the “right” partner
– that promotion you have been waiting for
– your business to be more successful
… remember that focusing on the outcomes means you are allowing external forces to govern your happiness.
Try focusing on the PROCESS instead, on everything that YOU can control. Focus on doing your very best one day at a time.
Process goals are focused on incremental everyday progress
Set process goals instead of outcome-focused goals, i.e.:
– send 5 applications per day
– go to two networking events per week
– contact 5 people you know every day
– exercise every morning for 10 minutes
Do what you need to do, what you feel is valuable. Ignore the intermediary results, like the number of followers you have, the weight you lost, how people respond to you or the success rate of your job search efforts. Take them as valuable feedback, but keep going and stay focused on your mission.
Trust the process
Things take time. I am saying this to you as much as I am telling this myself. When you are planting seeds for a while, you will reap the fruits… eventually.
You don’t know what kind of fruits you will get and when they are ready for harvest, but in the end, you will get what you need. Life is magical like that.
You are exactly where you need to be. You are on your unique path. Focus on what you can control and ignore the rest.