Goals that actually work? Base them on action

soccer kick photo“To achieve an outcome, you have to take action, and that action should be your goal. You can’t directly choose an outcome, but you can always choose to take action.” ~ Pete MichaudAsk anyone about how to get to success or a successful life and one of the first things they’ll say you have to do is to set goals. Everyone knows to set goals but we don’t do enough or the right ones so we're not successful…. or we’re doing it wrong.I think we’re setting goals wrong.When we set goals, the first thing that comes to mind is the thing we want.We want 10,000 visitors per month to your website.We want to lose 20 pounds.We want $5,000 to pay for the trip next year.The problem with those goals is they are outcomes. Those outcomes are great to keep in mind but they are not what you should think about on a daily basis to complete your goal.You need to think about actions.Blogger and Tech Writer Pete Michaud says it best, "To achieve an outcome, you have to take action, and that action should be your goal. You can’t directly choose an outcome, but you can always choose to take action.”When you set a goal, write it down. Then ask if it’s an action or an outcome. Actions are things you can do yourself right now. Outcomes are things that happen as a result of what you do.Writing blog posts is an action. Getting 10,000 visitors per month to your website is an outcome.Running 45 minutes per day is an action. Losing 20 pounds is an outcome.Doing 1 hour extra paid client work per day is an action. Getting $5,000 to go for your next trip is an outcome.

Can you control it?

Another test I use to see if something is an action or an outcome when I’m setting goals is to ask myself if I can control it. If I can control it then it’s probably an action. If I can’t directly control it then it’s an outcome.I’m very competitive when I play sports and it’s hard to let go of fact that I can’t control whether we win or lose. Winning or losing is the outcome. I play a part in it, for sure, but a very small part. I can control how much I train and how well I play but I can’t control any other players or the weather or the referee. When I’m setting sports goals or looking how I did, I focus on what I can control. How well did I play? Did I train enough? Did I do everything to the best of my ability? Past that, it’s anyones guess as to who is going to win.So the next time you sit down to go through the goals you are setting, ask yourself if they are actions or outcomes. If they are outcomes, you’ll want to rewrite them as actions instead. You’ll be much happier with the results.

What's your next step?

The prompt that I wrote about today is actually from December 13 – Action.

When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

This prompt is something that I've thought a lot about but haven't really done much with...Making the ideas happen is the hardest part. I've got lists and lists of ideas that I've written down online, in my notebooks on my whiteboards and that I've talked over with friends. But few ever make it into reality.Why?Action is the hard part. It actually requires effort, follow-through and focus. It's not the day-dreamy part where I can just lounge around staring off into space coming up with wonderful new ideas. That's all part of the process but after the ideas have been created they need to be dealt with. They need to be scrutinized, fleshed out and implemented.Lately I've been trimming down my list of "next steps" to start making things a reality. When the list of the things you want to do in the next 5 minutes is a mile long, nothing gets done. All you do is daydream, plan and organize. No action happens. This year ended up full of planning, organizing and daydreaming. It's not necessarily a bad thing but you need balance. Too much planning and not enough action is bad. Too much action with little planning is also bad. You spin your wheels whereas if you had thought about your road map for a day or two you'd have worked around some problems in the beginning.It's time for me to put a cap on the idea machine and start up the action machine. Time to start working through those lists of ideas and putting some of them to good use. I'm bursting with things to do with my outdoor sites. I can see some of them being put to good use by those who are outdoors a lot, myself included. The next step though, is taking the first todo and doing it. No more planning. Time for doing.Those are my next steps. What are yours?***I've been writing with the Reverb10 Crew since the beginning of December. I haven't published everything I've written but there are a few good ones. See my Reverb10 posts.These last few weeks of 2010 will be dedicated to reviewing what I did in 2010 and what's next in 2011. See all the review posts here.***