Olympians show how to focus on the process (instead of big goals)


Olympians show how to focus on the process (instead of big goals). Have you ever set big goals before, only to feel exhausted and drained after a couple of days or weeks looking back at the little progress you made?

Maybe it was your New Year’s resolution to loose 15 lbs and start going to the gym 3 times a week. Maybe you wanted to stop smoking or get that promotion to a managerial position.

In many cases, we see the big goal, the top of the mountain , and then we look back to the little ascend we did so far and feel like as if we’re just sinking deeper. We go back and forth between where we are and where we want to be, which is a big drain on our energy. Instead, to protect ourselves, we would do better of setting babystep benchmarks and celebrate the when we reach them. This keeps us focused on the here and now and boosts our motivation required to accomplish long-term goals.

Olympians and other top athletes know this very well. They do set big goals for themselves, but they also translate these goals into small improvements, babysteps. You can do the same when you have your eyes on that promotion, want to get in top shape or improve your personal relationships.

This article by Brad Stulberg explores this phenomenon and gets a bit deeper into the scientific study why focusing too much on goals could be negative for performance and for your wellbeing and why you should focus on the process instead.

New York Times–best-selling author and Harvard Business School Psychology Professor Amy Cuddy covers this in her book Presence as well. She says “focusing on the process leaves you with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, regardless of the measurable outcome.”

According to Amy Cuddy, this mind-set lends itself to presence, which she defines as the ability to be in the moment, confident but not arrogant.

So, what is your next “big hairy audacious goal” (or “BHAG”)? Have you figured out the baby steps yet so you can start walking (or even crawling if need be at the start) towards it?