Focus on results not only goals

Focus on results not only goals

As 2024 kicked off everyone is bursting with New Year resolutions and new goals. I sometimes wonder – does everyone think about the desired results when setting up their goals? It is often thought that goals and results are synonyms except they are not. While goals represent our objectives and desired outcome, results are actual outcomes and achievements. One might say that without clear goals there cannot be good results but surprisingly not all goal setting techniques recommend to start thinking about goals with the result in mind.

It could seem (chrono)logical to have goals before thinking about the results, but then why so many goals, that we are so passionate about at the beginning of the year, fall into the abyss throughout the 12 month journey? Often in goal setting process we forget to think about and connect to the result that we want to create. Without that connection it is very difficult to tap into the endless pool of motivation, passion and discipline.

It is for a reason that in January you can see loads of memes flying around about nearly everyone’s new years resolution to go to the gym 🙂 Technically it it’s quite a good goal, bringing many health benefits, right? So why for so many resolution-ers it lasts so short? Could it be because they do not exactly know what specific result they’re aiming to achieve? How is that not clear you may ask. The truth is that the result is very individual for each of us. It could vary from staying fit to losing x kg, from stress reduction to some “me time”, from fitting in a dress/suit to building muscles and so on. Being clear to ourselves and knowing what specific results we are targeting brings us closer to success.

Another element why goals can be not pursued even when the result is clear is the lack of connection/meaning to the result. If you are after something that is not so important for you personally, don’t be surprised that your desire to achieve it drops really fast (if appears at all). For example: if I decided to go to the gym in order to lose weight. But on my list of 10 important things my weight is in 10th place, it is very natural that I’ll make time for the gym after I took care of other, more important things. However if it was in top 3 of the most important thigs for me – you’ll see me in the gym every other day.

In reality very often, when defining goals, people look at the successes of others and based on that define their own goals with hope that such strategy will bring them to success. Well that does not work either. Remember this: if you do not have a connection with a goal, no matter how SMAR, HARD or WOOP it is you’ll not be dedicated to achieve it. Such activity, however, will bring some results, most likely that will be a state of disappointment and surrender.

Very good example of orientation on results is corporations. Those which simply cascade down the goals or OKRs (objectives key results) to the teams without their involvement struggle with great performance. If the team does not clearly understand what result the organization is aiming to create, or what results certain goals lead to, it is extremely difficult for them to contribute to the achievement. We often see that teams do bare minimum (at max) to reach certain goals and nothing really helps to get them more motivated and dedicated to the deliverables. In such cases, if I may suggest, go back to the team and get their input!!! Make sure that everyone in the team is aware and understands intended/desired results. Get team’s “buy in” in order to successfully move forward. Corporations which behave differently in terms of clear communication to desired results usually celebrate great achievements.

The last element you need for success is a challenge. If your desired result is within your comfort zone there is no guarantee that you’ll achieve it (even if you know you easily can). Why? Without diving too deep into Neuroscience let me mention a few key elements: challenges stimulate and engage the brain = increase motivation. It also activates brain’s neuroplasticity (ability to reorganize itself) and most importantly, it increases dopamine release. When we achieve challenging result we get the dopamine release which gives us a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. Such dopamine release does not happen when we achieve goals that are not challenging to us.

The truth is that whether you have some goals or not you will always have certain results. Whether you create them intentionally or not – that’s another question. If you think about it your personal reality is the result of your thoughts, emotions, words and actions (or lack of them). Since the beginning of the year is always a good time to reflect and maybe experiment, let me suggest you the following:

Imagine that today is 30 December, 2024 and you are doing the overview of the year with excitement summarizing all the great results you have achieved over past 12 months. How does it feel like? What are you most proud of? Now look at your goals – do you have them? Do they really lead you to the results that you desire? Does thinking about the end state makes you a tiny bit scared but super excited at the same time? If answers to those questions are Yes, congratulations, you’re on the right track and nothing or no one will stop you 🙂 If the answers are No, congratulations as well – you have a chance to make a change, go for it!

Happy New Year everyone! May 2024 be filled with your desired results.

"Being your true self is the highway to success".

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