ADHD Goal Setting

To-do list chart

Have you heard of Behavior-Based Goal Setting?

It’s a more effective way for ADHDers to set and achieve their goals.

To-do list chart

I’ll bet that the goals you currently want to achieve are based on a specific outcome, aren’t they? These are called outcome-based goals, and they usually involve a change in a situation in our lives. A better job, more money, a bigger house, weight loss and/or fitness… all of these are outcome-based goals, and these are what comes to mind when most people think about goal setting.

Of course, these are just a few of the more common goals that people set for themselves. But what if we based our goals on changing behaviors instead of obtaining a specific outcome? Could we modify or completely change behaviors that would lead us to the desired outcome quicker, healthier, and with less stress? Some experts certainly think so.

There is a different type of goal that doesn’t focus on the outcome at all! Rather than focusing on the outcome, this type of goal focuses on changing behaviors that make achieving the outcome-based goals so much easier and faster! These types of goals are called behavior-based goals.

With behavior-based goal setting, the intention is to create positive change in your habits, or behaviors, which will increase your chances of achieving your outcome-based goals. You can think of behavior-based goals as a mid-point, or stepping stone, on your way to your ideal outcome.

By creating and practicing positive habits until they become second nature, you increase the likelihood of achieving your end goals. But there is an unintended positive consequence of doing this! You see, while you’re changing your behaviors, you’ll also be utilizing those newly-cemented positive habits in many different areas of your life – some having nothing at all to do with your end goal! And this is the beauty of learning to utilize behavior-based goals alongside outcome-based goals.

Behavior-based goal setting

Create the larger outcome-based goal first. Then ask yourself, “What positive habits will I need to create in order to increase my chances of achieving this goal?” The answer to that question will be your new behavior-based goals!  If you are looking for information about changing your behaviors, click here for a great article from my blogs.

To demonstrate the technique, here is an example.

Anna wants to lose thirty pounds. Losing the weight is her larger, outcome-based goal. She knows that in order to lose the weight and keep it off, she needs to change habits that are preventing her right now from doing this. She sees that she needs to create new habits around consistency, discipline, and learning to not get overwhelmed.

Anna does a bit of research into these three new habits and finds techniques that she will implement to create positive habit changes that meet these interim behavior-based goals.

A few months later, Anna has lost the thirty pounds but has also created stronger positive habits that will stay with her for the rest of her life.

Many businesses today are focusing on behavior-based goals rather than outcome-based goals, because of this ripple effect. Smart companies know that when behavior changes for the positive, the employee is happier not only at work but in their personal life and family life as well. A happier employee is a more productive employee. So managers are learning to integrate behavior-based goals at each employee review.

This type of goal-setting isn’t seen just in the office, either. Personal trainers, life coaches, psychologists, therapists, and so many other professions are adding behavior-based goal setting to their repertoire of techniques. This helps those in these industries to help their clients reach success, whatever that may mean to them.

Try setting a few behavior-based goals of your own and you’ll see that positively changing a behavior really helps in so many different areas of your life. The results are great, and your new positive behaviors will serve you well for the rest of your life.

Table of behaviors to be changed and and its time of effectivity vs outcome-based goals

Here’s an example of three different areas to set goals in.  Your attitude, your actions, and your results.

sample of behavior-based goal setting vs outcome-based goals

To further break down short term goals, you want to create some daily behaviors.

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Christine Kotik, PCC

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