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Behaviour vs Outcome-Based Goals

We all know that goal-oriented people are more successful, happier, and more productive. But setting and keeping goals is a skill, and there’s a right way to do it like any skill. One thing you might find helpful is separating your goals into behaviour-based and outcome-based models. There are a few differences between the two, and knowing which is which can be essential.

Behaviour-Based Goals

Behaviour-based goals are usually changes you make to how you act. For instance, handling stress better, being nicer to others, and spending less time procrastinating are examples of behaviour-based goals. They focus on how you personally feel and behave, rather than just looking purely at the outcome of your actions.

Behaviour-based goals play into outcome-based goals, but they aren’t the same. When you change how you think and feel, often you’ll notice a change in results. But that’s not the focus - It’s just a pleasant side-effect.

To make behaviour-based goals, you’ll need to reflect on how you feel when completing a specific task. Do you get ‘snippy’ with coworkers in the mornings or feel tired when you’re trying to meet a deadline? Focusing on how you feel when you aren’t performing well and then making a concerted effort to change can help to make you more pleasant and productive.

Outcome-Based Goals

Outcome-based goals are changes you make to your performance. For instance, answering your emails faster, reducing the number of errors you make, and getting projects done on time are all outcome-based goals. They focus on the outcome of your actions rather than how you feel about performing your tasks.

Outcome-based goals tend to be easier to quantify. You can count the number of emails you respond to before lunch, and you can keep track of the amount of time you spend on a particular project. For this reason, most people focus on making outcome-based goals. After all, your progress is so much simpler to quantify.

Making Them Work Together

The real key to success is melding behaviour-based goals with outcome-based goals. Often you can get to the root of a problem by changing your behaviour and then watch as your outcomes vary. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the two, and that’s okay. Just don’t lose sight of the fact that your performance is a mix of both.

Having the right mindset is just as important as working hard if you want to succeed.


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