Outcomes versus Behaviors

As I get ready to run my first half marathon tomorrow I’ve been doing a lot of preparation.

I cannot control the outcome, but I can control my behaviors leading up to race time. And that’s what I’ve been doing the last several months.

Focusing on the process, not the product.

Here is a little insight into our coaching program and where we focus the attention. It is different than (or maybe opposite from) other programs you may have tried in the past..

Making change is a skill…that you can practice…and improve.

And if you want to make big changes, you have to take small, consistent daily actions.

In fact, your behaviors are the only things you can control.

So make those your goal.

I can’t know for sure if I will finish or how long it will take me to run 13.1 miles tomorrow. BUT, I can say that I’ve done all that I could to prepare to run it in the time that I am targeting.

  • I completed my training runs in conjunction with my strength training.
  • I focused on nutritional changes that would support my increased distance.
  • I rested and recovered after the long runs.
  • I mentally prepared for the idea of running for 2 1/2 hours.

Outcomes versus Behaviors

The world is pretty uncontrollable. Life happens.

If you want to lose weight, you can eat well and stay active. But you can’t control your fat cells.

You can’t make your body lose 20 pounds on command any more than you can make your house worth a certain amount when you sell it.

In other words, you can’t control the outcome.

But you can control the behaviors that lead to the outcome you want.

Outcomes are WHAT you want. But outcomes don’t tell you what to do.

Behaviors are HOW you’ll get there. Behavior goals give you an action plan.

Set Behavior Goals

So instead of setting “outcome goals”, set “behavior goals”.

Here are a few examples showing the difference, just so you get the picture:

Outcome goals

  • Run a 5K race in 23 minutes.
  • Lose 10 lb.
  • Squat 80 lb.

Behavior goals

  • Run for 20 minutes three times per week for the next month, gradually increasing the duration and speed.
  • Practice eating slowly at every meal.
  • Show up every day and do your nutrition habits consistently.

Does this help clarify the difference?

Notice how all of the behavior goals are a commitment to do a specific set of actions or tasks that lead to the outcome you want.

Also, notice that:

  • behavior goals are things you do consistently and regularly;
  • behavior goals are small, manageable tasks that are within your control; and
  • behavior goals are often things that you can do right now, today or in the near future.

Again: You can’t control the outcome.

But you can control the behaviors that, when done consistently, will move you in the right direction toward your goals.

The 4 Circles

Here’s an exercise that will help you see how outcomes are connected to behaviors.

Take out a piece of paper and draw four circles. Label them:


    • End of xxx amount of time
    • This month
    • This week
    • Today

In the first circle, identify what you want the outcome of your nutritional change to be at a future point in time.

In “this month”, “this week”, and “today”, write what you will do to get to that “Outcome”.

Notice how what you do right now — and in the near future — contributes to the outcome you seek.

Set yourself up for success.

Be realistic with what you can do. For now, under-estimate your capacity.

Better to start small and succeed than go big and feel like a schmuck for “failing”.

Focus on doing one small, achievable behavior at a time. Then high-five yourself when it happens.

This is a great lesson that can be applied to any goal you are trying to accomplish and is an integral part of our nutrition program with Precision Nutrition.

Please let us know if you are ready to begin your journey!

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