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Achieving Excellence: Understanding Performance Goals, also known as Action Goals

Introduction to Performance Goals

Performance goals, also known as action goals or process goals, are vital in driving you or your organization towards success. Whether in personal development or professional life, setting clear and achievable performance goals is crucial for your growth and progress.

Let's delve into the importance of performance goals, explore how they differ from outcome goals, and provide strategies for effective goal setting and attainment.

Goethe - In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm. In the real world all rests on perseverance quote

Understanding Performance Goals

Performance goals are the key to perseverance. They focus on actions and behaviors that you or your team must engage in to achieve desired outcomes. Unlike outcome goals, which emphasize the end result, performance goals emphasize the process and the steps required to reach your desired outcome.

For example, an outcome goal might be to increase your sales by 20% within a year, while a performance goal would involve actions like learning about the product, or implementing effective sales strategies.

If personal goals, the outcome goal might be to lose 5kg, and the performance goal could be to go to the gym 100 times this year. If the outcome is to save $20,000 this year, the action goal might be to analyse costs and spending once a month and highlight 3 changes. Outcome is the end point or the result, performance is what you do that leads you to the outcome. Going through all the actions you can take to bring you closer to your goal and selecting the most important one is the essence of effective time-management. 

Importance of Performance Goals

  1. Clarity and Direction: Performance goals make the paths to achievement clear and provide direction, helping you understand what specific actions you need to take to achieve your objectives. They break down larger outcomes into manageable actionable tasks, making the path to success more tangible and achievable. When you choose performance goals well, action flows, and outcomes are reached quickly. 
  2. Motivation and Engagement: Setting performance goals can increase motivation and engagement by providing you with a sense of purpose and progress. When you have clear task-related goals to work towards, you are more likely to stay focused, committed, and driven to succeed.
  3. Accountability and Measurement: Performance goals create accountability by establishing clear expectations and benchmarks for success. They enable you or your team to track your progress, identify areas for improvement, and adjust your strategies. 
  4. Skill Development and Growth: Pursuing performance goals encourages skill development and growth. By focusing on specific actions and behaviors, you can enhance your capabilities, overcome challenges, and continuously improve your performance over time. The more you do something, the better you get at it. 

Setting Effective Performance Goals

  1. Specific and Measurable: Performance goals should be specific and measurable, clearly outlining what actions need to be taken and how success will be evaluated. For example, instead of setting a vague goal like "improve communication skills," a more effective performance goal would be "attend a communication workshop and deliver a presentation to the team by the end of the quarter."
  2. Achievable and Realistic: Performance goals should be challenging yet achievable. Setting overly ambitious goals can lead to frustration and burnout, while setting goals that are too easy may result in complacency. It's important to strike a balance and set goals that stretch you, just a little, beyond your comfort zone. Too much, and you'll become deflated and dejected. This is different for each person and each situation, and it's something you get better at each time. 
  3. Timed: Performance goals should have a defined timeframe for completion. Setting deadlines helps create a sense of urgency and prioritization, motivating you to take action and make progress towards your goals. As Brian Tracey says, the unconscious loves a deadline. 
  4. Aligned with Objectives: Performance goals should align with your larger priorities. Whether personal or organizational, goals should contribute to your overall vision and mission, ensuring that efforts are focused on activities that drive meaningful results.
Emerson - Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect quote

Strategies for Goal Attainment

  1. Break Down Goals into Actionable Steps: Break down larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks and action steps. This makes goals more achievable and provides a clear roadmap for implementation.
  2. Prioritize and Focus: Prioritize goals based on importance and urgency, focusing on high-impact activities that align with objectives. Avoid spreading efforts too thin by trying to pursue too many goals simultaneously.
  3. Seek Feedback and Support: Seek feedback from peers, mentors, or supervisors to gain insights and perspectives on goal progress. Utilize resources and support systems to overcome challenges and stay on track towards goal attainment.
  4. Celebrate Progress and Adjust as Needed: Celebrate milestones and achievements along the way to maintain motivation and momentum. Be flexible and willing to adjust goals and strategies as circumstances change or new information emerges.


Performance goals, also known as action goals, are essential for driving success and achievement in both personal and professional settings. By focusing on specific actions and behaviors, performance goals provide clarity, motivation, and accountability, guiding you or your organization towards excellence.

By setting effective goals, prioritizing actions, and staying focused on progress, you can unlock your full potential and achieve your desired outcomes.

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