Should you focus on your goal or the process to acheive your goal?
I have spent a lot of time thinking about this question in recent months.
I don’t believe there is a 100% correct answer. However, there are some considerations that you should think about if you are struggling with this question.
Perhaps the most difficult thing we encounter when trying to improve ourselves and develop our skills is quantifying an exact goal.
For instance, you might say, “In 1 year I want a new career that involves more travel.”
You have drawn a line in the sand and started your goal.
Now comes time to create the process. You must now find the steps you will take to get to your goal.
And that’s where it all goes to shit
You can plan all you want, but things change, plans change, and you will have small failures along the way.
You can create a process, spend years refining it, learning from it, and doing it…only to find out your goal has changed.
When the facts change, I change my mind. When my information changes, I alter my conclusions.” John Maynard Keynes
So which is more important, chasing a goal, or enjoying the process?
It’s one of those philosophical questions that no one has the answer to.
But some answers might prove to be more true based on who you are as a person and WHY you are doing what you are doing.
Focus on the goal when…
You are unsure of what to do next. Processes change.
In fact, what you do today probably isn’t the best way to do it next week.
Learn from mistakes, fail early and fail often.
You will be confronted with days or months of frustration, lack of clarity, and setbacks with your processes.
Keep an eye on the goal.
Focus on the process when…
Your goal seems unattainable.
Sometimes we bite off more then we can chew.
If your goal has you feeling down, find small incremental process improvements you can make to keep you on the right path.
If your goal is to run a marathon and your training has you feeling like it won’t happen as quick as you’d like it.
Take a day or two off of running. Spend that time reading about nutrition, joint health, running techniques, or anything else that might improve your process.
Then get back at it and find a way to make your processes smarter.
Work smarter not harder
At the end of the day, the debate between goal vs process is irrelevant.
They are not mutually exclusive.
In order to accomplish your goals you must focus on your process.
In order to accomplish your processes you have to have a goal in mind.
Instead of getting frustrated by your goal, think about your process.
When you get bored with your day to day routine, focus on your goal.
Understanding WHY you are going after your goal is one of the most important aspects in obtaining your goal.
Are you striving for your goal to:
- Teach others about your passion
- Invoke curiosity, awareness, or knowledge around your cause
- To prove to yourself you can do it
- Fame and money
- Push yourself and find more to life?
- Do you have no idea why you do what you do? But just because you love it?
If you can answer any of these questions then you are on the right path to understanding how your goal and process will need to work together in order for you to get where you want to go.
I will end with this. Let’s use an example from a book.
Chris Guillebeau writes about individuals on a quest in his book titled “The Happiness Of Pursuit”
In the book Chris talks with a guy named Matt who walked across Turkey. Chris asked him about is his focus on achievement rather than process.
Matt said, “Love the result, not the process. It sure helps if you enjoy the process, because you’re going to have to spend a lot of time there before you see any results. But still, the process can kiss my ass. Throw process under the bus if they aren’t getting the desired result.”
What’s your why? What’s your goal? How are you going to get there?
You got this, don’t give up.