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Outcomes and Results and Goals, Oh My!

When it comes to goal-setting, using “outcomes” and "results” is about as hardcore as you can get.

Notice how these words have an attitude about them, a certain finality, a certain do-or-dieness about them (you probably wouldn't want to meet them in a dark alley). To paraphrase Tony Robbins, “you may or may not get your goal, but you’ll definitely get an outcome."

And he's right.

Do you see the difference between “A goal I’d like to achieve is losing 10 pounds this summer” and “The outcome I’m committed to achieving is losing 10 pounds this summer”?

Language matters.

“Outcomes” and “results” are probably best-suited for competitive arenas like sales, sports, anything involved with money/numbers, and it-is-or-it-isn’t results.

That being said, I don’t think they’re always appropriate. Especially when going after intangibles. Suppose I say, “The outcome I’m committed to achieving is to find greater inner peace by meditating three times a week.”

I could commit to the outcome of showing up three times a week to sit quietly and focus on my breathing, but what if I end up not finding inner peace? Do I meditate harder??

This is where “goals” come in. Instead of scrapping the original sentence, I could change it so “The outcome I’m committed to is meditate three times a week with the goal of finding inner peace.”

Compared to her inflexible-seeming cousins, “goal” feels a little more forgiving and adaptable.

Which is exactly what you need to be when you go after something difficult.

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