Set a Goal Then Stop Obsessing About It


Focus on the process, not the end result.

This might sound familiar: You set a goal. Let’s say, you set a goal to lose 10 pounds in three weeks. You start getting excited and pumping yourself up. I’m going to do this! 10 pounds, three weeks, let’s go!

A week later, you feel exhausted and discouraged.

Although you’ve been eating healthier and exercising regularly, you are so focused on the end result – the 10-pound weight loss – that you 1) haven’t noticed how much better you feel as a result of your healthier lifestyle and 2) feel like a failure every day you wake up and aren’t 10 pounds lighter already.

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(Image courtesy of num_skyman at As entrepreneurs, our thoughts and energy are spread thin. At the end of the day, we’re stressed out and exhausted.

This goal-focused mentality is typical in our world today and a core hindrance to mindfulness.

In “The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life,” Thomas M. Sterner looks at the havoc such an approach wreaks on our personal and professional lives.

“When you focus your mind on where you want to end up, you are never where you are, and you exhaust your energy with unrelated thoughts instead of putting it into what you are doing.”

As business owners and entrepreneurs, we can relate to this.

Our thoughts and energy are spread thin. We are so busy thinking about the goal of success (however we choose to define it) that we forget to take pride in the small accomplishments of our daily routines.

We find ourselves stressed out when anything seems to threaten that goal. To stop this, we need to focus on the process we are engaged in each day to reach this success. Only then will we find personal enjoyment in the “daily grind” and provide customers and clients with our best professional services or products.

What is the first step towards fostering a process-focused mentality rather than a goal-focused one?

You cannot have a process without a goal. Set a goal and then determine how you can reach it (define your process). Only then, can you relax and focus on the process.

Depending on your business, this process might entail running the daily floor operations of your restaurant seamlessly, or updating your client files so you can consistently track prospects, or taking a few days to finally master Excel spreadsheets.

“When you make a decision to acquire something whose acquisition will require a long-term commitment, pick the goal and then be aware that you are entering the process of achieving the goal,” Sterner writes.

“You cannot do this if you constantly make the end result your point of focus. You have acknowledged the goal; now let go of it and put your energy into the practice and process that will move you toward that goal.”

So what gets in the way of goal setting?

Throughout our lives, we have generally always had someone to give us some form of guidance.

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(Image courtesy of adamr at Setting a goal and then focusing your energy on the process of achieving that goal, rather than the goal itself, allows you to enjoy the process and feel accomplished at the end of each day.

During our childhoods, we had parents and family members; in school we had college advisors; at our first jobs and internships we had mentors and supervisors.

When you become an entrepreneur, especially if you are your only employee, it can feel like you’re completely on your own. That was the point, right? Be your own boss; make all the decisions; answer to no one.

But setting goals on your own is hard. With no one to confer with, the only guidance you have is your own. It can be a scary thing.

Coaches are much-needed brainstorming partners. They’re there to bounce ideas off, ask you questions you haven’t considered and enable you to answer the tough questions you may have been avoiding.

They can be your guides towards setting a goal and defining a process. After that, they can help you keep laser-like focus on that process so you can achieve your goal with deliberation, a sustainable level of energy and less stress.