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“Outcomes vs Behaviors ” Mindset

Making change is a skill. A skill you can practice. And improve.


And if you want to make big changes, you have to take small, consistent daily actions. In fact, your behaviors are the only things you can control. So make those your goal.


Outcome vs Behavior


The world is pretty uncontrollable. Life happens.

  • If you want to sell your house for a good price, you can renovate it and give it a fresh coat of paint. But you can’t control the real estate market.
  • If you want to have a nice picnic, you can pack a basket and blanket and plan your route to the park. But you can’t control the weather.
  • If you want to lose weight, you can eat well and stay active. But you can’t control your fat cells.
  • You can’t make your body lose 20 pounds on command any more than you can make your house worth a certain amount when you sell it.


In other words, you can’t control the outcome.

But you can control the behaviors that lead to the outcome you want. Outcomes are WHAT you want. But outcomes don’t tell you what to do. Behaviors are HOW you’ll get there. Behavior goals give you an action plan.


Set behavior goals

So instead of setting “outcome goals”, set “behavior goals”.

Here are a few examples showing the difference, just so you get the picture:


Outcome goals

Run a 5K race in 23 minutes.

Lose 10 lb.

Squat 80 lb.


Behavior goals

Run for 20 minutes three times per week for the next month, gradually increasing the duration and speed.

Practice eating slowly at every meal.

You get the idea.

Notice how all of the behavior goals are a commitment to do a specific set of actions or tasks that lead to the outcome you want.


Also, notice that:

behavior goals are things you do consistently and regularly;

behavior goals are small, manageable tasks that are within your control; and

behavior goals are often things that you can do right now, today, or in the near future. 


Again: You can’t control the outcome. But you can control the behaviors that, when done consistently, will move you in the right direction.


The 4 Circles

Here’s an exercise that will help you see how outcomes are connected to behaviors.


Take out a piece of paper and draw four circles. Label them:

  1. Outcome: End of 6 months
  2. This month
  3. This week
  4. Today


In the first circle, identify what you want the outcome after a 6-month journey with us.

In “this month”, “this week”, and “today”, write what you will do to get to the “Outcome: End of 6 months”.

Notice how what you do right now — and in the near future — contributes to the outcome you seek.


List your behavior goals.

In the form below, list 3 behaviors that — if done consistently — are going to get you to your outcome goal.

  • What will you do this month?
  • What will you do this week?
  • What will you do today?


Set yourself up for success

Be realistic with what you can do. For now, under-estimate your capacity.

Better to start small and succeed than go big and feel like a schmuck for “failing”.

Focus on doing one small, achievable behavior at a time. Then high-five yourself when it happens.


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