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Behavior-Based Goals 101

Setting goals isn’t complicated, but like everything else, there is a right and wrong way to go about it. Making goals to change your behavior -- whether it’s to decrease procrastination or be friendlier when you’re under stress -- can be a lot trickier than creating goals to change performance. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Focus on Future Performance

It’s cause and effect -- today’s behavior affects tomorrow’s performance. If you’re having trouble meeting a performance-based goal you’ve set for yourself, consider that you might need to change a behavior instead. For instance, many people set goals to increase productivity. But regardless of how fast you type, if you spend all morning surfing the web you’ll never meet your goal.

When it comes to behavior-based goals, your focus should be on future performance. Go out of your way executing your behavior-based goals, stay consistent, and really work hard on changing the ways you handle stress or deal with interpersonal relationships. As you change your behaviors, the results will come.

Give Yourself Time

In some ways, changing your behavior is a lot harder than just increasing your productivity. How we feel, think, and react is second nature to us in a way that answering a certain amount of emails before lunch isn’t. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you aren’t seeing the behavioral changes you want overnight.

Give yourself a realistic amount of time to make changes. You’ll find it’s difficult to change a behavior all at once. The most important thing is that you improve a little bit every day. Don’t give up on your goals, but don’t get upset with yourself if it’s harder to stick to behavior-based goals than it is to performance-based goals.

Measure Your Progress

Behavior-based goals are harder to quantify than performance-based goals for a few reasons. It’s not always easy to assign a number value to interpersonal skills or teamwork. It can be hard to track the ways you manage your time or communicate. Sometimes, behavior-based goals are really subjective. But keeping track of your progress is important if you want to improve.

You may really need to get creative in order to measure your progress, and you’ll definitely need to embrace the subjectivity of the process. Write down your thoughts and feelings. Rather than making charts and graphs, consider journaling to keep track of your positive and negative behaviors.


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