Behavioural Goals vs Outcome goals

By CSSM Podiatrist Alicia Schifferle

Generally, when we want something, we are taught to first think of what it is you want, plan how to get there and execute it. Simple right? Little did we know that this way of thinking has actually been setting us up for failure. If we don’t reach that goal we are constantly working towards and never achieving, we will forever be in pursuit of something that’s always just out of reach.

What we should do instead is focus on implementing everyday behaviours that will then form small steps in our journey towards our end goal. This is why it’s important for us to know the difference between outcome and behaviour goals when planning. This can be the difference between losing all motivation or sticking with it the entire way and beyond!

An outcome goal is the end result one wants to accomplish.This means:

  • You are unable to directly control the accomplishment of the goal
  • it is the result of a series of other things you need to do
  • there is only success in achieving this goal or failure in not reaching it
  • there is clearly defined success or failure which can create high pressure and stress

Behaviour goals are the steps that you must take to accomplish your outcome. This means:

  • You can directly control the goal as it is an action you can choose to do every day
  • goals are incremental and measurable
  • goals are more achievable and create a better sense of fulfilment and success
  • you are creating good habits so when motivation dips you’ve got something to fall back on
  • you are providing the framework to get to your desired outcome

So how does this relate to our time in isolation? How many of us have set a goal for ourselves such as staying fit or losing weight or to run a half marathon during lockdown?

Putting in place goals that focus on moving every day will take the pressure off and are a lot more flexible and achievable. If you have goal to move for 60 minutes a day and know that in the week you want to get in 2-3 pilates or strength sessions, 1  yoga class, 2 runs and 1-2 walks; then you can chop and change what you want to do depending on how you feel. Maybe you’ve had a bad sleep and a restoration yoga session would be more beneficial for you or maybe you’re full of beans and a fast-paced tempo run would get your endorphins bouncing.

Try adding some behavioural goals into your day to set you up to build healthy positive habits which will ultimately lead you to success whatever your goal is.

If you want some help talking through and setting up personalised behavioural goals through the next six weeks, give the team a call and we can set up a telehealth appointment.



Epton, T., Currie, S., & Armitage, C. J. (2017). Unique effects of setting goals on behavior change: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 85(12), 1182–1198.