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Focus on the process, not the goal

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.

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January is the month of new year's resolutions. Have you been to a gym lately? PACKED! Have you been to a gym in December? empty

Why is that?

People focus on the wrong things, get discouraged, and quit. You can't control the outcomes, but you can control the inputs.

Stoic philosophy in a nutshell. Great philosophy to look into, I recommend reading A Guide to the Good Life. Amazing book. Very eye-opening.

So what does it mean you can't control outcomes?

Say you're looking for a job. Trying to get hired as a software engineer at BigCo.

What do you do?

You apply for jobs. You go to interviews. You get a job.

Multiple applications. Multiple interviews. One job.

πŸ€”

That means there's a funnel. A process, if you will. You are not in control of any one job offer. Somebody else makes that decision based on many factors good and bad. But ultimately it's their choice, not yours.

So you're not in control.

But you know that if you apply for 10 jobs, you get 1 interview. If you go to 10 interviews, you get 1 job offer. If you get 10 job offers, you get 3 that fit your criteria.

Of those 3, you can negotiate for the best offer.

You do have criteria what you're looking for, don't you? You're not just blindly looking for any job, are you? You want a good job? I hope so. I believe in you and think you deserve the dreamiest job you can imagine.

Okay, so your goal is to get 3 good job offers. There's probably a time component as well. You need a job before you run out of money.

You can't control job offers – the outcomes. You can control your inputs.

So if it takes 10 job offers for 3 good ones, you need 10 offers. If it takes 10 interviews for 1 offer, you need 100 interviews. If it takes 10 applications for 1 interview, you need 1000 applications.

And now you're in control.

Submit 1000 job applications. Get 100 interviews. Get 10 offers. Get 3 good offers. Have a dream job.

Same principle works for the gym: Don't focus on the pounds, backtrack your goal to its inputs, then focus on the process. Doing the work will make the result.

Do think "I run 3 miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning", not I want to run a 15K in 5 months, but that's overwhelming, so I'll take a nap instead.

Do think "I study for the GMAT for 1 hour every day", not I want to get into business school but have to pass the GMAT in March, and that's so overwhelming I can't even get started, so I watch Netflix.

Do think "I work on something cool for 1 hour every evening", not I want to learn more technologies, but the choice is overwhelming, and I can't keep up.

My example of process-not-goal focus

To share an example, here are my process goals for the start of 2019. In 3 months, I will measure and adjust πŸ‘‡

For general health and well-being:

  1. Boxing 4 times per week. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
  2. Lifting 1x per week. Wednesday
  3. Long relaxing walk with The Girl 1x per week. Saturday

For my marathon in March. I said no more marathons last year, and yet here we are:

  1. Run 5 to 10km twice per week. Wednesday, Friday
  2. Run long distance (23km+) every Sunday

For my business:

  1. Write 2 technical blogs per week. Monday, Wednesday
  2. Write 1 soft blog per week. Friday
  3. Apply to 1 conference or meetup CFP every week
  4. Get in touch with 1 consulting lead per week

For business and personal learning:

  1. Livecode something cool for at least 1 hour at least 4x per week
  2. Write ^200wordsTIL every day about something new I learned that day

My writing comes straight out of your preferences. You can still answer these 3 questions to make me create better stuff for you.

What about you? What are you trying to achieve this year? How are you getting there? Can I help?

Did you enjoy this article?

Published on January 11th, 2019 in Learning, Personal, Thoughts

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