The Process of Goal Setting, Inspired By Successful Entrepreneurs

Decipher the difference between theses two sentences:

“I want to improve how much sleep I get on a regular basis” and “I am getting more sleep than I used to and I am more energized because of it.”

The first sentence leaves me feeling daunted by how ambiguous and big the goal is. The second sentence denotes I’m in the process of doing that thing; I consequently feel less overwhelmed and I just want to ask, “What steps did I take to get there?”

Focusing on the process rather that the outcome changes everything. Removing that piece of the equation allows you to focus your time and energy on a habit – otherwise known as a process-oriented goal. And a process-oriented goal focuses on the journey. If you have a big overarching goal like “getting more sleep,” “eating healthier” or “working out more,” putting the right process-oriented goals in place can help you get there.

process of goal setting

Why focus on the process of goal setting?

As we’ve interviewed dozens of CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs on the #WeGotGoals podcast, we’ve learned from them that there is much to learn about their journey to success. And when they share what it took to get to where they are, we find that those are the stories that have us hanging on the edge of our seat, excited to hear what happens next.

Your process becomes your story. According to a few of our podcast guests, these process-driven methods have proven successful at creating some pretty thrilling stories.

Spend time visualizing

When founder of Protein Bar and Limitless Coffee & Tea Matt Matros coaches other entrepreneurs, he asks them to close their eyes and describe what they see five years out.

“Literally, what do you see?” Matros says in Episode 10. “The walls? … Where are you? … What are you driving? … What does your product look like? … If you can see it you can make it happen.”

The more detail you add to your mental picture, the more time you spend describing what you want to be a reality, the more you’ll be able to fill in the gaps to get there.

Prepare to prepare for success

Too many times I’ve fallen into the trap of wanting immediate success, not achieving it and dropping the goal altogether. But from the beginning of setting that goal, I didn’t set myself up for success because I didn’t allow myself time to plan to start.

Matt Lindner, sports writer and first time marathoner in Chicago, gave himself more time to start training than prescribed in the average marathon training guide. He knew he’d need more running under his belt to set himself up for success when he started the “real training.”

If you have a big goal that scares you a little (or a lot), give yourself time to get used to whatever process you’re setting up, and don’t be hard on yourself if you need to take some time to get on your path to success.

Track your time

What better way to stick to a process than to track exactly what’s happening during your day?

That’s what Shane Emmett, founder of Health Warrior, does. He told us in Episode 14 that he asks himself, “Am I spending my time on the things I say are most important and focusing on the important over the urgent?”

Audit your time by keeping a log of the way you spend it; after two months, look back to see if your hours matched your goals.

With the 168 hours in the week, we have the power to decide what matters. It’s up to us to ensure we match our time with what we say are our priorities.

Be open to change

As much as being driven to tackle and accomplish your goals no matter what is a worthy trait, staying open to new and different paths can be healthy, too. In Episode 28 we heard from Clare Crowley, champion boxer, co-owner of Haymarket Brewery in Chicago and owner of Yoga House. She described her path to success as more of a process of discovery that allowed her to stay open to opportunities that came her way.


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About Maggie Umberger

Maggie moved to Chicago from North Carolina in 2014 with a degree in Journalism and Spanish, a 200-hour yoga certification, a group fitness cert and a passion to teach and to sweat. It wasn't until she found aSweatLife that she really started to feel at home. Here, she's incorporated her passion for health and wellness into her career as she helps to build the network of Ambassadors, trainers and fitness enthusiasts that exist within the aSweatLife ecosystem. You can also find her coaching at CrossTown Fitness and teaching yoga classes at Bare Feet Power Yoga, Yoga Six and exhale.