I'm currently reading the book Triggers. The premise is how to create behavior change in adults. There’s a section in this book that addresses the importance of focusing on effort rather than outcome. When I began reading this part, all the alarms went off in my brain! I thought, Wow this is gold. So many times we “fail” in achieving certain goals. This is mainly due to overly focusing our attention on the outcome rather than focusing on the effort being given. A healthy amount of exerted effort is how we attain our goals. Let me explain how.
Step one of goal setting is to have an outcome in mind, but step two is more important than step one. Step two is to come up with behavior based goals that, if done frequently enough, will lead to the outcome you had in mind. For example, let's say you want to be able to deadlift 100 lbs. Lifting 100 lbs is the outcome you wish to achieve. In order to reach that outcome, you have to create a series of behaviors that would help you reach that goal. One added behavior may be deadlifting at least once per week over the next 8 weeks. Consistency with the behavior goal will be key to reaching the outcome you wish to achieve. Without consistency, you have no chance of achieving the outcome.
Now, the mistake that is often made when trying to reach a goal is focusing too much on the outcome you wish to achieve. Often, we may even work on the behavior goal fairly consistently and still not achieve the outcome we are shooting for. Usually when this happens we get super frustrated and think, Life just doesn’t want us to accomplish X. We think, Well, I’ve been doing what I’m supposed to in order to reach X. Why am I not achieving my goal? That’s a rather fair question to ask, though it leans a little towards victim/fate type thinking. That mindset makes change seem out of our control. In these circumstances when someone may be “doing” all of the right things, they may be lacking one crucial piece of the puzzle. Effort.
It is so important to focus on how much effort is going into achieving your goals. Just going through the motions usually does not lead to progress. You can do whatever behavior you want for however long you want, but if it is done with no intent behind it, I can guarantee that you will end up in the frustrating situation of wondering why you haven’t reached your goal yet. Focusing on the effort you give on a consistent basis will have an eye-opening effect on why it is that you can never seem to reach goal X. Tracking your effort will reveal the underlying issues and might even get you to start knocking your goals off one at a time.
The best part about tracking your effort is that it places accountability back into your court. You are now responsible for achieving, or not achieving, your goals. It’s no longer a “world hates you” or “that’s just the way things are” mentality. You have the power to change. If you can be patient, set smart goals that are behavior based, and track your effort there is not much in this world that you can’t accomplish.