Focus On The Process For a Better Outcome
Why do we focus on goals for results? Is it because we are striving for a better future or is it because we will be judged on the outcome?
What about instead focusing on the process we take to get to the goal?
Let’s look at what delivers the best outcome.
Goal setting is great for the short term and for getting fast results. It is perfect for setting tasks for the day ahead or aiming to walk a certain number of steps in a day. It can put you in the right mindset and keep you motivated to reach your target.
On the flip-side a goal focus can restrict happiness – believing that we can’t be happy until we have reached that goal, only to then delay our happiness for another goal!
Also focusing primarily on a goal can result in failure or abandonment of the task when results are not achieved quickly. Especially in today’s society we when we expect instantaneous results and feel defeated if we have not reached our goals by a set deadline.
Whilst goals can provide direction for the short term a fully thought out cleverly designed system will always be better for the long term. Solving problems and learning new habits as part of the process will lead to improvement.
A process focus also helps when it is not possible to control the outcome. For example when trying for a promotion at work, you might dress smarter, contribute to meetings more or even put your hand up for extra work - this doesn't guarantee the outcome. But by focusing on the process, you will work towards the desired outcome, learn from the journey and develop new skills along the way.
One of the key phrases in Stoic philosophy translates to “what is up to us, what is not up to us”. The Stoics advocated to solely focus on the things that were up to us, as these are the only things we can change. Thinking about things that are under your control will lead to a more peaceful and effective way of life.
So how do we adjust our mindset and turn our attention to the process?
Start to break down your tasks into smaller pieces and set out one step at a time, complete this well and then move onto the next piece.
Stop imagining that everything could end badly
Imagination is a powerful thing remember to stick with the task at hand don’t get carried away by imagining everything as unbearable. If you thought about how much work something would take when trying to achieve the goal, would most people even bother trying? People would be so consumed with this fear and dread their dreams would be over before they’d even started.
Trust in the process and you will win in the end
Changing your mindset means you will not become overwhelmed by the tasks ahead of you, focus on the task that’s right there and move one step at a time. This way you will achieve more than you believed possible your satisfaction will improve and ultimately your happiness.
Don’t be afraid of mistakes
If you continuously focus on the end result you will be much less willing to take risks that may of achieved a higher level of success than the one you were aiming for. Mistakes help us learn and develop in life.
Try to stop the results being your central focus, this may lead to a loathing of the work. The mere fact that you cannot get the results there and then will make you unhappy with what you are doing. On the other hand by focusing on building and acquiring the skills you need to get the work done, will bring your attention to the present and make you appreciate the learning experience you are awarded with.
By mindfully studying the process you wish to learn, you may realise that a certain outcome occurred randomly rather than association to one variant. You will learn to increase your knowledge of causal relationships.
Finally, a process focus helps to build discipline and productive techniques for learning.
Whether you give your best efforts is entirely within your power. You have complete control over the process you use.
Derive happiness from knowing that you gave every attempt your best effort. This will give you the confidence to succeed and there’s nothing more attractive than confidence.