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Michael Bernoff is correct: Setting outcomes is more productive than setting goals.

Here’s the difference: An outcome describes what you want to have happen whereas a goal is what you want to do.

This works for me because much of what we do amounts to running in circles. Some of it is busywork, some of it we can delegate, and some of it might be inefficient. When we focus on what we want to do, we trick ourselves into thinking we are productive.

But the truth is, we can do a lot, even if it doesn’t result in anything happening. 

This is why I like to focus on outcomes. When I focus on outcomes, I set my mind toward what I want to have happen during the day. My to-do list, then, consists of results rather than activities.

Here are a few examples: Having five client meetings a week is a goal. Completing all annual reviews this week is a goal. Having a weekly date night with my wife is a goal.

See how these goals compare to outcomes: Strengthening my relationship with five clients every week is an outcome. Having a gauge on every employees’ productivity, level of engagement, and confidence is an outcome. Having fun with my wife is an outcome.

Give it a try and see how your daily life changes when you consider the outcome instead of the goal.

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