“Process goals” are the last type of goal that can help you “master your craft”. They focus on the execution of specific actions during a performance.
As discussed in my previous blog post, “performance goals” focus on improving a personal performance standard (e.g., adding 20 pounds to your shoulder press by the end of October). Although setting challenging, realistic and attainable “performance goals” is important, you also need to figure out how you are going to achieve them.
The secret is to keep your “outcome” and “performance” goals in mind, while making sure that your mental and physical energy is focused on what you can do in the here and now. You will only get to your destination if you focus on the path in front of you!
Setting “process goals” will help you identify the collection of behaviours that are necessary to achieve your “performance goal”. These behaviours must be as specific as possible. Moreover, you should include the most pertinent behaviours that you will focus on both during and outside of your performance.
For instance, let’s say that you are a professional golfer and one of your “performance goals” is to sink 50% of the putts that you take from a 10 to 15 feet distance. During your performance, your “process goals” might be to take a deep breath and visualize the golf ball going into the hole before each putt and making sure that you keep your arms straight and your chin down. Meanwhile, outside of your performance, your “process goals” might be to listen attentively to your coach during putting practice, allocate 20 minutes at the end of each practice to work on your putting from a 10 to 15 feet distance, and analyze videotapes of your past performances.
Set aside quality time to complete this exercise. Give yourself a minimum of 20 minutes. Find a quiet place to sit comfortably and focus only on the task at hand. Take 3 deep breaths and relax (close your eyes if you need to). In your journal, write down different “process goals” that will help you achieve your “performance goal”. This is a brainstorming session, so write down as many “process goals” as possible (you can refine and choose the most relevant ones during a subsequent goal setting session).
Kingston and Hardy (1997) examined the impact of different goal setting training programs on performance. 37 male golfers were split into three goal setting groups: (1) process goal group, (2) performance goal group, and (3) control group. The state anxiety, self-confidence, and skill level (indicated by handicap) of each participant was measured on three occasions at important tournaments. Furthermore, their psychological skill levels were assessed before and after the intervention.
The authors found that the skill level of the process goal and performance goal groups significantly improved, while the control group did not show any improvement. In addition, compared to the performance goal and control groups, the self-efficacy, cognitive anxiety control, and concentration of the process goal group significantly improved.
The results of this study indicate that setting “process goals” is a very important part of a goal setting program. Based on the information that I have provided you in this blog post as well as my two previous ones, we can conclude that the most effective goal setting program involves the development of “outcome goals”, “performance goals”, and “process goals”.
In my next blog post, I will go over the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting principle and other important criteria to keep in mind when developing and implementing your goals.
Set goals. Do just one thing at a time. Keep it simple and smart. Do it consistently. Reflect on the process.
Kingston, K. M., & Hardy, L. (1997). Effects of different types of goals on processes that support performance. The Sport Psychologist, 11, 277.