There’s nothing worse than putting TONS of time and energy into trying to get something you want and coming up short over and over again. For example, when you’ve been stuck at a job you hate for what seems like forever and just can’t find a new one, despite multiple applications and interviews. Or maybe you find yourself messing something specific up over and over again and feel like you’re not improving, no matter how hard you try. Or you have something very specific you’re trying to get and are just not getting it. So much effort wasted!
The problem is that what you need, whether it’s a new job or overnight advanced skills or someone else to agree to something, is somewhat outside of your control. It’s not something you can just say you’re going to do and go out and do; the stars have to align and other people have to see things the same way you do. All you can really do is keep trying… but why keep trying when you’re putting in so much effort without getting any results? Then again, if you don’t try you won’t get any results either. So then what?
My solution to this is to come up with process-based goals that don’t rely on anyone else.
Need to get a new job? Instead of making your goal getting an offer, make your goal something you can control, something specific. For example, your goal could be to ask three specific questions about the company during the interview, or to give two examples about why you are uniquely qualified. Even if you don’t get the job, you’re improving your interview skills and building your chops…which will surely come in handy later on down the road.
Trying to get published in some big-name magazines or websites and getting rejection after rejection? I’ve certainly been there, and in fact broke into one dream site after a total of 11 ideas and 28 emails exchanged. The goal I was tracking was not how many of my dream publications I could break into, but how many queries I sent. I took care of the process and the outcome took care of itself.
Working on something you have to do which you just suck at? Again, focus on the process. I did this after I realized some video interviews I’d been doing for a client weren’t up to my standards. Instead of trying to will myself to improve automagically, I focused on some specifics. Being more conversational. Making eye contact. Responding to what people said instead of just thinking about what I was going to ask next.
Focusing on the process does three key things.
First, it gives you a bit of independence, so you can focus on YOUR actions instead of outsourcing your level of accomplishment to a decision made by someone else… which you ultimately have no real control over.
Second, it allows you to really hone in on specifics you need to improve on and come up with your own strategy or plan to get there. Whether you’re taking courses, reading a book, or doing something else entirely, time spent developing skills and knowledge is never wasted.
And finally, it allows you to have some success, which builds your confidence and makes things a bit easier and more fun. Will that ultimately get you to your goal? Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. But it certainly makes things a lot less miserable in the meantime.
Bonus: Focusing on limiting beliefs and some of the stories you tell yourself can really help speed along the process. More on that soon.
Have you ever focused on the process rather than the outcome? What were your results? Feel free to share in the comments!