The Finish Line Doesn’t Matter When You Focus On Process Goals

By focusing on daily process goals in training, preparation, strength, and movement, we can become a better version of ourselves when we take on big adventures.

Three Things To Consider With Process Goals

  1. Once you set your adventure goal, decide what habits, skills, and abilities you need to achieve your goal. 
  2. Do a lot of self-talk using “you” language to help deal with process challenges. 
  3. Welcome challenges and difficulties because they help build resilience and emotional strength.
By focusing on daily process goals in training, preparation, strength, and movement, we can become a better version of ourselves when we take on big adventures. 

Plus, research shows that focusing on process goals instead of the finish line improves your overall performance. 

Your Finish Line Doesn’t Matter

None of the everyday athletes I work with are getting paid to ride, run, or do any of our sports. 

We do them for fun, as a challenge, as an adventure. 

And even if we have some giant bucket list adventure on our schedule, when we focus on the process goals in training, preparation, strength, and movement, we’ll learn and grow as humans as well as improve our race performance

Your particular finish line doesn’t really matter. 

What matters is what you learn and how you grow along the way. 

I know: that sounds like a Hallmark card. 

Paying attention to the changes that happen in you preparing for your adventure means the process matters.

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Start With Setting Some Slightly Challenging Goals

The first step in working on any bucket list adventure is to set some outcome goals

For most of us, finishing or completing the adventure is enough. 

Sometimes, setting a time goal is also fun as a target. 

These are not the daily process goals we’re talking about; these are finding an adventure goal to complete!

This post in Medium is a great way of looking at goals with a running perspective: 

“Running goals will be best met if the goals have three elements to them: (1) the goal is specific and attainable; (2) the goal is something that will make you smile; and (3) the goal challenges you enough that you don’t get bored, but isn’t so challenging that you quit.”

Then Figure Out What Daily Process Goals You Need To Achieve That Goal

Daily process goals are the steps you take to reach your outcome goal. 

These are the habits, skills, and changes you need to make to accomplish your adventure. 

And this is where the process goals can get tricky AND while they’re so useful.

“Focusing solely on the outcomes of our pursuits can distance us from the day-to-day work that we need to put in to accomplish those goals.”

Focusing on the process goals can have a much bigger impact on our lives than the outcome goal. 

Here’s more from writer Lisa Lewis:

“Researchers and practitioners have long known that process goals can improve performance and productivity, and that outcome goals on their own can sometimes interfere with performance and productivity.”

Self-Talk Can Help Through The Challenging Times

The daily process goals need a constant reminder and are often the most challenging to stay on top of since they often require deep change.

For example, I’ve written a lot about how I’m working to change my cyclocross mentality to just have fun while re-learning to breathe. 

Interestingly, some research suggests that using second person “you” language can help us 

“One likely theory is that the second-person pronoun permits self-distancing, providing some dissociation from either the effort itself or one’s own motivational investment in the task. As mentioned earlier, saying “you” might shift the perspective from you against the world to having a partner/coach/friend being there with you and pushing you.

“Another related possibility is that the second-person provides a “time wedge,” slightly removing oneself from the immediacy of the mental and physical task and its discomfort.”

Working At Process Goals Builds Hardiness

Working at these daily process goals can also bring growth and depth to our lives through challenging moments.

Building grit or hardiness as you work on the process goals depends on three elements, according to this story in Outside. 

  1. Commitment – Fully commit yourself to the change you want to see. 
  2. Control – Take action to change the things you can.
  3. Challenge – See the work in a growth mindset, where you can learn from everything you do. 

Resilience and Grit Get You Through Challenging Times

Loren Rowney, a professional cyclist, talks here about how resilience, the capacity to keep going with a positive attitude, has been the key to her growth and development.

The idea of resilience and grit is the idea of getting knocked down seven times and getting back up eight. 

We will never accomplish all of our daily process goals. 

Unless, of course, they were really easy, and were not really process goals in the first place. 

My work on staying positive and focusing on the moment will be a life-long journey.

And there will be moments where I fail. 

That’s the idea of Grit and Resilience and the Daily Process Goals

Get up one more morning and keep on. 

Process Goals Would Have Helped Years Ago

Any time I’ve become hyper-focused on a single race, I have cracked mentally. 

I remember one bike race, in particular, many years ago when I was riding better than I ever have.

I was expecting a great result in the state championship road race. 

My preparation and training were solid, but on race day, I got so much into my head that my body simply didn’t respond. 

After all the months of preparation, I was left only disappointed in myself and feeling like I wasted a lot of time.

My focus was entirely on the result, and not on the training that got me there. 

I never focused on the daily process goals, only on the outcome.

What stories do you have? 

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