Setting goals is something that we probably do every day. Sometimes you reach them, sometimes you fail. But how can you set a goal that you can actually accomplish? How can you break them down into an action plan and make a dream a reality?

Outcome, Performance and Process Goals

I first came across this concept of setting Outcome, Performance and Process goals at a London Marathon conference. It stuck with me because it was a simple breakdown of your good goal setting and how you can achieve them. With these three steps you should be able to break down your big Outcome goals into more detailed Performance goals and even more into specific Process goals. By doing you break the big dream into smaller more digestible chunks. To explain this concept I will use the example of running a Marathon.

Outcome Goal

This should be the big idea, that you have in your mind. It should represent a goal, that is desirable and challenging at the same time. And it should be so big, that it can’t be achieved immediately. Basically, it should be THE BIG GOAL.

Example: I want to run a Marathon in sub x hours.

Performance Goals

This goal is a first breakdown of the big outcome goal. Try to set 3-4 intermediate performance goals of how you want to reach your outcome goal. To finde these goals you should ask yourself: What am I actually doing when I reach my goal? How am I reaching it? What skills do I have? What do I need to learn? Are there intermediate goals do I need to achieve to get to my big outcome goal? What should I avoid? Example: To finish a Marathon I need to run a certain distance (26.2 miles or within a certain time (insert your goal time here).

  • Performance goal a) I need to increase the maximum distance I can run. (If you’ve never run a Marathon)
  • Performance goal b) I need to increase my speed (if you’ve run a slower Marathon before)
  • Performance goal a+b) I need to do both of the above.
  • Performance goal c) I need to stay injury free, so I can actually finish the Marathon.

Process Goals

Once you have defined your Performance goals you can break them down even more to arrive at your Process goals. These goals should be small daily or weekly goals that will bring you closer to your big goal. This step is actually the most important one. Process goals are where you put in the hard work, that nobody can see. 

Process goals is where the magic happens.

You can ask yourself: what exactly do I need to do today or this week that brings me closer to my goal?

Example: (If you follow a proper Marathon training plan these process goals are already incorporated into your plan)

  • Process goal a) I will run a weekly long run and increase the distance according to my training plan to 35 km or 22 miles over the course of four months.
  • Process goal b) I will do one weekly interval or speed session.
  • Process goal c1) I will increase my weekly mileage gradually by not more than 10% to avoid overuse injuries.
  • Process goal c2) I will do a weekly strength training session with my PT.

If you want to know, how to set a SMARTER goal in the first place check out my blog post here!


Outcome, Performance and Process goals