Repeatable Process - Predictable Results
By Seth Haselhuhn
People often fail to reach their goals until they learn how to use goal setting to work for them. Writing down a list of things you’d like to be able to do is a lot like throwing a penny in a well. Nothing will happen and pretty soon, you’re out of cash.
However, with just a basic understanding of how goal setting works, you can get where you want to go and still buy a round after training. There are only a few things you need to know to make your training more effective.
I’ll start with the three types of goals to set. Then we’ll consider three levels of difficulty, then finally we’ll tie it all together with a plan you can put into your training.
Here is where most people fail. Goals are always written in terms of the desired achievement but most people just stop there, they don’t make a plan for how to get what they want.
Let’s consider a competitive pistol shooter. It would be easy to assume that the competitive pistol shooter has a goal to win a pistol shooting competition, or place in the top 10, or something along those lines. How does this happen? Clearly, people aren’t born destined to be competitive pistol shooters – there has to be a process.
The first type of goals are process goals. Process goals focus us on the things we have to do to achieve our desired outcome. One of those things for a competitive pistol shooter could be the draw, a slide-lock reload, or any other fundamental task that would allow our guy to be successful.
Let’s say he decided that he needs to master the slide-lock reload (SLR) to achieve his Top 10 Finish goal. That means his process goal is to successfully execute a SLR 10 times in a row without missing the magazine release, fumbling with the magazine as he draws it out of his belt, or catching it on the magazine well as he seats it. When he can do it clean, 10 times in a row, he could add reps to further his mastery or he can test it by setting a Performance Goal.
Here is where most people fail...
Performance goals are goals we set to test our proficiency in the processes we’ve set out to master. In our example, our guy would now start to measure his proficiency using time as a metric. An important aspect of goal setting to remember here is that goals should be flexible and controllable. Instead of picking a random time to achieve, he should simply time himself doing his sets of 10 clean SLR’s.
Then all he has to do is progressively lower the time standard. If he lowers it too fast, he should flex it up a few tenths of a second. If he’s always clean, it’s time to speed it up. We want him to be aware of three general levels of goal difficulty.
Dream goals are standards that are too high because of limitations that are out of our control. These create the wrong mindset and limit our motivation. On the other end of the spectrum we don’t want to make our performance goals so easy to accomplish that we can’t get a sense of accomplishment out of them either. Growth goals are the best of both of those worlds. The performance standard is high enough to challenge our abilities but not so high that we can no longer compete the process.
If he's always clean, it's time to speed it up.
A good rule of thumb for goal difficulty is an 80% success rate. That means if our guy does 10 SLR reps with a 2.0 second par time, he’s clean and under or at 2.0 seconds 8 times. He’s not a “2.0 second guy” until he can repeat 10 clean runs, two different times, or two sets of 10.
Because our goals are controllable and flexible you might set yours to 90% success rate or even a 60% success rate. I would caution you on going outside of the 60-90% limits. Lower than 60% success will build poor habits and deconstruct the mastery you gained in your Process Goal. Higher than 90% and you’ll likely be training bored and lose interest or even worse, lose your edge.
Once our guy has found his Performance Standard, he needs to test the Outcome. Outcome Goals are the result of Process and Performance Goals. Remember his main Outcome Goal is to finish in the Top 10 – he may be able to do it once, or even once in a while, but to maximize his training he’s building a repeatable process to produce predicable results.
... you'll likely be training bored and lose interest or even worse, lose your edge.
He needs to train the skill in context, which means in competition he won’t be thinking of the step by step process of SLR, there will be a number of other things grabbing at his attention. To test his mastery of performance, he needs to set up training where he will be forced to do a SLR while trying to complete a larger task. Then he can review his shot timer and see if his SLR was done clean, and under his Performance standard.
If he repeats this process with all of this pistol fundamentals, he can confidently perform in competition. He’s built a system, now he gets to use it in competition. After the competition he can evaluate his performance in two ways, both of which will drive his training for the next competition.
The first way is what we call a “self-referenced measure of success”. All he has to know is if he met his performance standards he set in his training. If he didn’t then he just adjusts his training process – it’s his – he’s in control of it. If he did meet his performance standards, then he can used what we call a “normative measure of success”. He can now compare his standards against other people’s performance to see how he compares. If he’s the best, he repeats his performance standard process. If he’s not, he adjusts it.
I like to use an “Evaluate, Adjust, Reset” concept to make adjustments. I’ll go into this in detail in my next post. For now, practice good processes, perform them to an achievable standard, and test them in context of how you’ll use them.
If he repeats this process with all of these pistol fundamentals, he can confidently perform in competition.