The most important goal setting tool is direction. We might get goals and processes wrong but we always want to be moving in the right direction. When in doubt, over index on getting direction right. For example, “I want to get fitter” or “We need to acquire more paying customers” or “I want to get smarter about 3D printing” are all directions.
Next, have a rough sense of what a good outcome looks like. Take the time to describe it in some detail. So, “I want to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks” or “We need 100 paying customers by the end of the month” are outcome goals.
Finally, create a process which you think will help achieve the outcome while staying in the right direction. The process is where you’ll spend your time every day. So, create one that suits your style. Taking the fitness example, you’ll need a fitness regime that is proven to lose weight while also making sure it is something you can do.
As you work through your process, keep checking in on the outcome to tweak your process as necessary. But, be flexible on the outcome while keeping focused on getting direction right. You may realize mid-way that you didn’t set the right outcome goal. For example, maybe 10 pounds in 2 weeks wasn’t a smart target. But, “getting fitter” still is likely the right direction.
And, finally, an overlooked part of a great process – complete acceptance of the outcome. There is no guarantee that the outcome you want will be the outcome you get.
But, in the long run, good processes and good outcomes go together. And, besides, in the really long run, being in the right direction matters more than everything else anyway.