2-11-21 - The benefits of self-referenced goal-setting

Sent 2/11/2021

Today's Think Better Newsletter discusses a particular category of goals and goal-setting: self-referenced goals. (You can see all of my goals for Make the Leap here.)

The Idea

Goal-setting is critical to success. And there are many ways to do it. The better you think about goal-setting, the better you can set them.

There are two categories of goals: norm-referenced and self-referenced. 

Norm-referenced and self-referenced goals

Norm-referenced goals focus on external benchmarks and comparing to others. Self-referenced goals focus on internal expectations and quality of execution. 

It's very easy to set norm-referenced goals. There is always a race to win, a competitor to beat, or a benchmark to clear. 

But self-referenced goals are what great athletes focus on. Because these are what actually drive the quality work that leads to making a leap.

The System

Setting meaningful self-referenced goals is critical to sustaining the work you need to do to achieve your norm-referenced goals.

But there are other benefits that make self-referenced goals so powerful: 

1. Focus on context: you can only control a small portion of your situation. Focusing on self-referenced goals forces you to focus first on what you can control.

2. Transferability: learning to focus on what you can control is a skill that applies to everything you do. You can literally use goal-setting in a training context to make you better in every aspect of your life.

3. Freedom to test: By measuring success based on your execution, you can try things that don't necessarily result in norm-referenced success. It frees you to take more risks and learn more proactively. (aka "fail successfully")

How we define success and failure is as much a choice as any other training decision we make. Figure out why you want to do the work, why it's meaningful to you. And then set some goals that hold you to that standard.

The Question

What is driving you to be your best, and how can you measure that


Go Be More,

Bryan Green
Author of Make the Leap: Think Better, Train Better, Run Faster and the companion Think Better Workbook
Co-host of the Go Be More Podcast

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
- J.K. Rowling


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