Yesterday morning I did the opening keynote for a group of medical staff professionals in downtown Denver.

The topic was goals: how we think, strategize and execute towards them.

Two of the components I always discuss are Outcome Goals and Performance Goals.

Outcome Goals are the figurative finish line at the end of the race, or the end destination of the GPS.

Performance Goals are the benchmarks / milestones / checkpoints that occur on the way to your Outcome.

For example, I consider Performance Goals to be one of the best strategies I used to run 100 miles.

I psychologically convinced myself that if I could just get to the next aid station (Performance Goal), I could get to the finish line. I simply had to rinse and repeat that enough times.

Well, this morning, a lady in the audience raised her hand and asked a question:

Do you think sometimes it can be a good thing to set a smaller goal?

Hmmmm. Tough to answer so I asked for clarification.

She said she has a son that has ADHD. He really wants to write a 10-page paper but is struggling to stay on track.

This was a perfect setup for Outcome Goals and Performance Goals.

I’m almost never a fan of shrinking Outcome Goals – they’re a huge motivator for what we do.

If he wants to write a 10-page paper, AWESOME! Who am I to tell him that’s unrealistic?

BUT, it becomes critically important to set up the Performance Goals along the way. Whether these benchmarks are writing one page at a time, one paragraph at a time or one sentence at a time, really, is irrelevant.

The same psychological principle applies:

The above image is from my latest book, DE.ER. ("Daily Execution. Extraordinary Results.").


I become more convinced every day that the ability to focus on "the next rung on the ladder" is a key component to execution.

The loftier the Outcome Goal and the more distractions, the more important the single-minded focus of the next rung becomes.

And in addition to giving you something more proximal for which to strive, it also builds confidence by showing you how many rungs you've climbed.

In other words, it's not only about how much farther you have to go but also about how far you've come.