When people talk about their health and fitness goals, generally, they say things like:
⚖️ I want to lose 20 pounds.
🧘🏻 I want to be less stressed.
🏃🏾♀️ I want to run a sub 30-minute 5K.
These are all examples of outcome-based goals—goals that focus on a desired outcome or result.
It’s fine to frame goals like this… in casual conversation. But it’s not so great for actually improving or progressing toward that goal. That’s because wanting an outcome isn’t enough. (Even if you really, really, REALLY want it.)
Because we (usually) can’t control outcomes. You can have crystal clear vision of your goal—plus all the motivation in the world—but then:
You get slammed with work.
Your kid goes through a mental health crisis.
Your gym closes for, like, TWO YEARS.
Your knee decides it hates running.
There goes your goal—up in smoke. Staring at the ashes of your former goals can feel like a personal failure.
However, you might’ve had little to do with your goal not working out. It’s just that things beyond your control—work, other people, your biology—didn’t cooperate.
But if results are out of your hands… how are you supposed to improve at anything???
Meet: Behaviour-based goals.
Behaviour-based goals are centered on the ACTIONS you take, like eating slowly at every meal, practicing a daily meditation session, or doing some type of training or active recovery most days of the week.
Because you have MUCH more control over your behaviours, behaviour-based goals are more effective—and more empowering.
Here are a few examples of turning outcome goals into behaviour goals:
Outcome goal: Lower blood sugar
Behaviour goal: Take a 20-minute daily walk
Outcome goal: Sleep 8 hours a night
Behaviour goal: Create a calming bedtime routine and start it 30 minutes before bedtime
Outcome goal: Improve relationship with partner
Behaviour goal: Have a date night once a week
How to set a behaviour goal—TODAY.
What to Do
► Write down the outcome you want. (Let’s say it’s, “Lose 20 pounds.”)
► Then, write down some skills you think you’ll need to get that outcome. (For example, one might be “meal prep.”)
► Next, write down a behaviour you can do today that’ll help build those skills. (“Buy and wash blueberries, and put them in a container that’s easily accessible.)
► Try to do the behaviour consistently. (In the example above, maybe you prep a bunch of fruit each Sunday so you have healthy snacks available all week.)
You may not always follow through, and that’s okay. Progress is almost never a straight line in the direction you want to head.
But by focusing on the behaviour and not just “lose 20 pounds,” you keep your attention on the part you can control.
That’s truly how you achieve amazing things over time.
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If you, or someone you know, needs help with nutrition or a fitness routine, please reach out. Either online or in the gym, I specialize in helping busy professionals over 40 get fit without burning out. My personal training studio services downtown Toronto and is just steps away from the UP Union to Pearson Express Station.