Do you have goals in both your professional and personal life? If we can’t reach those goals, often we become frustrated and defeated. We might create new goals and start over. However, instead of concentrating solely on goals, a different focus might be what is needed.

Outcomes for our personal growth or for leadership development, as opposed to goals, are more attainable and satisfying.

Why is this the case? And how can we achieve this?

Outcomes versus goals

An outcome is the result of something. For example, your goal is to be healthy, but the results to you are to have more energy, be happier and live longer. Those are the outcomes you desire.

A goal is an aim or something you want to achieve. And your goals need a strategy and plan to see them through. For example, you have a goal to exercise five times a week. While that goal is commendable, it might not happen. This is followed by disappointment when you miss several days, which will cause you to likely quit altogether, and your health could potentially decline.

But your desired outcome – to be more energetic, be happier and live longer – hasn’t changed. Focusing on the outcome, or result, of what you want to achieve will keep your perspective positive. The road to get there has to alter, but your desired outcome remains the same.

While both goals and desired outcomes work in harmony, your outcomes – what you want as the result – won’t change when your goals do.

Why goals are challenging

When the road map we created to fulfill certain goals change, we have to seek an alternate route. This can be challenging because our energies are tailored to look at what faces us at the moment – short-term goals, tasks, events and even management. And when the plans we created to reach certain goals fail, we often take it personally and look back with “what ifs.” This produces discouragement, and our motivation becomes sluggish when we need to move ahead and try again.

However, when we focus on the outcome of what we want or need to do (the bigger picture) instead of on goals (short-term plans and tasks to reach the outcome), then our mindset becomes clearer. How so? Because while we know the plans will change, and not everyone on the team will contribute and decisions will have to be altered, the outcome of what we desire should not change, even if the path we need to take to get there does.

Make sure you are clear on your desired outcomes so your focus doesn’t change when everything around you does.

Effect on leadership development

Focusing on your desired outcomes goes a lot deeper than simply homing in on some of your goals. Remember that it’ll have more to do with results as opposed to the tasks and the plan to get there. For example, your desired outcomes could be more along the lines of how you feel about something and where you want to end up mentally and emotionally.

To do this, think about the why as opposed to the how. Why do you want to do something? What is that going to mean to you professionally? When you think deeply about what you want to achieve and why, the steps to get there might be clearer, but when they change, you won’t be deterred, because your outcome, or desired result, hasn’t changed.

When you are clear on the desired outcomes, especially for the organization, make sure your team also understands what the results need to be. Help your employees have a clear picture so they are able to ascertain how the outcome benefits not only the company but also themselves.

As a leader, you are also a mentor, which means your thinking will shape the thinking of your team. When your employees observe that you are willing to ride the waves of change (because they hit, and suddenly at times), to be open to new ideas and to admit when a task or idea wasn’t the best, they will be eager to work with you to help you – and the team – achieve the desired results in some other way.

Personal growth

Both as leaders and as individuals, we should have something we’re headed toward, whether physical, mental or emotional.

Again, it’s important to look into the why rather than the how.

For example, many seek fulfillment in their jobs (goal). They desire to be happier, have more time with their family, enjoy more recreation and relaxation and see positive results from their work (outcome). When they aren’t happy, the goal is to seek another employer.

To solidify the desired outcome, it’s a good idea to evaluate what fulfillment means to you and what that involves. If you don’t have a clear view of your outcome, then you’re trailing after meaningless goals, such as jumping from one employer to another. And your slump is similar to that of lacking contentment.

Your personal goals will shape your professional life because the results become who you are. And knowing who you are, realizing contentment and discovering purpose will modify your personality and guide where you are headed.

The key is to make sure you are clear on your desired outcomes so your focus doesn’t change when everything around you does.