The Focus

Goals are descriptions of a desired future that we articulate in the present and work to achieve over time. It’s hard to underestimate the power of goals. They help us achieve grand visions – like going to the moon – or more “down to earth” visions – like become more efficient with our time. No doubt, goals matter. In this audio program, we’ll explore some of the basics of goal making and how to better achieve them. We’ll consider:

  • What a goal is and why they matter
  • The difference between outcome and output goals
  • How to create outcome and output goals
  • Some tips on achieving everyday goals – whether at work or elsewhere


Exploring the Power of Goal Audio


Fresh Hot Bagels Audio Encore Performance 


NOTE Below is a transcript of the audio program. Forgive any mistakes the A.I. might have made in the transcription process. The transcript is not meant to replace the audio, but support it. 

Exploring the Power of Goals


This is Dave Fleming at the ingenuity lab. Hello procurement team. Fresh hot bagels, just for fun, fresh hot bagels. And if you don’t know what that means, ask someone who’s been around. Oh, I don’t know, before the pandemic fresh hot bagels, I hope you’re doing well. Today. We’re here in this audio program to talk about goals. We’ll be together in February, at one of your team meetings to explore this content that you’re listening to now, so we thought we’d give you this now, so you could digest it. And then we could have more of a conversation. When we get together.

This year, the procurement team is changing up how you write goals. It’s exciting. It’s fun to write goals, you’re going to write some goals that will help you in your personal and professional life, develop into a more skilled contributor and leader, right, because we’re all leaders, we’re leading in our own area. And these goals will not only benefit you, but will benefit your team, the department and the company. How cool is that? To be able to develop something that brings greater mastery to your own skill and work, but also contributes to the work of a team, the work of a department, the work of an organization that actually is changing a community.

That’s pretty cool. And you might think that seems a little grandiose, Dave, but it really isn’t when you stop and think about it, the work you do changes the community of Tucson and the surrounding areas. So you do important work. I mean, think about how often you reach for something that you need, and you have it and what it would be like if you didn’t have it. Now, now just multiply that out by 1000s. And the things that you procure are in abling T P to do its work. That’s impressive. Thank you for what you do. So let’s hop in and talk about goals. If I were to define what a goal is, a goal is something I articulate in the present, that I would like to see different in the future.

A goal is something I articulate in the present, about my situation, my life, my work my skill in any particular area. It’s something I articulate in the present, about how I would like the future to be different. And a goal is that articulation of that different future. And then of course, it usually includes the steps required to get to that better future. Now, we can’t predict the future. We can’t control the future, we know that. But we can make certain desired futures, way more likely. If we focus on certain behaviors, and mindsets that move us in a particular direction. So a goal starts out as an articulation as in we write it or say it in some way, declare it in the present, we write it now, for a better or more desired future state. Now, usually, I would say, really all the time, when you’re writing goals, then it’s important to articulate that better future in a way that you can both reach for, and then organize your life around a series of activities that help you get there. So let’s take a really simple one, we can all relate to what if my goal what if I said my goal was I want better health.

Okay, I want better health. Now that, that that’s a goal, just that right there. I want better health and well being. That’s a goal. That goal then has to be in some way both measured and


achieved. Right. Those are and those go together. And that is not a one and done usually right we know with health. That’s an ongoing part of life. So better health is what we call in the goal world and outcome, an outcome is something I want to achieve. Okay, that’s very important. An outcome is something I want to achieve. I need better health. Now we get to actually thinking about what will give me better health.

And I bet you there are things flying through your mind right now, right? Well, I’m going to probably need to pay attention to my diet, and probably be a good idea to move and exercise in some way. You know, Friends are important to health, connection to people being connected to something larger than myself, you know, whatever that is some cause in the world or spirituality or faith in some way. and on we go, right, we have these different areas where we could see that if we could change those areas, it could help us reach that outcome that we want. And what is that outcome, better health and well being great. Okay, so now I have my outcome, and outcome is something I desire to achieve.

Now I’ve taken that outcome, and I’ve kind of divided it into areas, right? Diet, exercise, relationships, causes that I’m a part of, you know, connection to community. Okay, great. Now, now I need to figure out what I would actually do in those those areas to get to that outcome of better health. Right now, we’re talking about actions that lead to output. Okay, so we’ve got two words that start with oh, here that are really important to goals, outcome, and output. Say them with me, just wherever you’re sitting, right? Right now, outcome, output. Outcome is what I desire to achieve. Output are the actions I’m going to execute. That will help me get to my outcome. Okay, so we need some ways to measure better health. And that can be a little tricky, right? It’s easy to measure output. So let me give you an example. output would be I’m going to exercise three times a week aerobically, I’m going to I’m going to run three times a week. And on the off days, I’m going to do strength training and yoga. Okay, I put my little calendar together. And there it is.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, run Tuesday, Thursday. I do weight training and yoga. Okay, great. Now, at the end of the week, I can look at my output. I can look at my output, I can measure my output. And how do I do that I measure my output by saying how many times did I run? I ran three times. Fantastic. How many times did I do yoga, and strength training? Zero. It was not a good Tuesday and Thursday for me. Okay, so let’s talk about my output for the week, my output for the week three runs, zero strength training, and yoga.


Okay, so we could take any of our areas of focus, diet, exercise, relationship, whatever. And we could create out put goals, output goals are actually pretty easy. Because they’re related to action there related to doing now, this is going to be really important here in just a minute when we turn to work goals. Output goals are easy. They are a measurement of things I did to try to reach my goal, whatever that is, I ran Monday, Wednesday, Friday didn’t do my yoga. Now these are important. These are super important. Output goals are really important.

Because now I can look at my calendar and say, Why didn’t I do the yoga and I may have to arrange my life differently to get the yoga in. You know what I just for some reason can’t do that, you know, first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening, and I’m going to have to adjust my schedule accordingly to fit more who I am. So you know, I’m going to get up 30 minutes earlier and do that strength training and that yoga then because if I don’t do it in the morning, it’s not going to happen. So now we go to next week. How do I do?

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, did I run I got Monday and Friday. And I missed Wednesday. But I got Tuesday and Thursday and on the string training. So now what was my output for week two, Monday, Friday run Tuesday, Thursday yoga strength training. Okay, so now, now I’m starting to develop a map of my output. That map is important, because it’s going to be important for me to understand the behaviors that actually get me to my outcome. Now, this is where outcome becomes important to be able to measure as well remember, outcome output two different things, what’s outcome outcome is what I want to achieve better health and well being output are the things I do to try to get to that better health. But here’s the big, ginormous $64,000 question is my output getting me to my outcome? What if I’m running three days a week and doing yoga and strength training two days a week, and I still am not experiencing well being?

Let me give you a quick example. Let’s say I’m doing a lot of things right, eating right? Exercising, I have friends, but there’s this nagging low energy, right, there’s something I just feel lethargic, and almost a little bit depressed and anxious. And, and you know, what I might kids just left the house, I’m in the empty nest, you know, part of life. Ah, well, maybe this isn’t just about exercise and diet at this point. And so I decided, you know, what, I, I’m in a transition in life, I think I need some help, I’m gonna get some counseling. So now I’m going to add a new output, talking with someone about my life. And I find that after six months, the counselor was super helpful. And I’m starting to see that I can get through this transition, and my kids are moving on to, you know, really cool endeavors in their life, and I still have relationships with them. But I’m starting to understand that I have a life too. And I have to do my life in new ways now. And now I’m starting to feel a new vigor and vitality in life. Can you measure vigor and vitality? Absolutely, you can? Absolutely you can, you can certainly measure energy. What’s it like when you’re going through your day? You can measure this subjectively, and you can measure it more objectively, you can just measure the feelings you have during the day. Am I having less lethargy during the day? Am I more engaged in my work? Am I getting back to some of the things that are important for me to do? All those? Show me outcome measurements, you can also objectively measure?


Energy, right, wow, when I was in that really hard time, when my kids left, I didn’t want to get out of bed, and I didn’t get out of bed, I would sleep till the very last possible moment. But I’m finding now that I’m getting out of bed, I’m waking up before an alarm, I have more. I have a new lease on life, we might say, write that outcome. Why? Because that’s better health and well being. But it’s the outputs that get me to the outcome, right? I need both. But here’s the thing I really want you to hear. And we’ll talk about this when we’re together. You can be doing a lot of stuff on the output side and not get to your outcome. Right, just like this person that I gave you the description of was running and eating right and even hanging out with friends. But they were still having struggles. Why? Because they hadn’t isolated the right area where they needed to do some work. What was that right area, I had to deal with my kids leaving the nest if you will.

Now, I know this might sound a little straightforward. Life is complicated. It doesn’t necessarily just mean that, you know, I go to a few counseling sessions and voila, everything’s better. But you get my point, right? You could turn this any other way that someone is doing lots of good things, has lots of good friends, you know, volunteers, but they have low energy because of how they’re eating and they need to change their diet and they need to lose some weight. And so they’re gonna hurt their ability on the outcome side to experience well being until they find the right area to focus attention on in that particular illustration. It would be food, right and weight and movement and all that goes along with that site. of things. So the big message here I want you to hear is outcome is what I want to achieve. It’s the loftier goal. Output are the things I do, that I believe are going to help me get to that outcome. And I will monitor my output.

And I will also monitor my outcome, am I making progress toward the outcome I want through the outputs I’m doing. And if I’m not, I’m going to change some of my output, I’m going to do something different. Now, this becomes really important when we talk about work goals. So let’s transition there. Now, when it comes to work goals, I’m not even going to try to think of examples that fit specifically to your work. Because even if I could do it, which I can’t, even if I could, I’d probably get some of it wrong. And you’d be like Dave, that what are you doing, and you’d get stuck on me not really understanding your world enough to help you write goals without you explaining it to me. So I’m just going to take something generic here and use it as the example. But it’s still something generic, that would be important for all of us, no matter what we do. Okay? So here we go. Here’s my outcome goal, let’s say I would have for work, I want to be more efficient. With my time and my energy. I want to be more efficient with my time and my energy.

Now, once we’ve identified that outcome, goal, more efficiency with time. Let’s just stick with time. Okay, more efficiency with time. Now, this is where this gets personal. Because I have to start asking myself if that’s my outcome, remember, outcome is what I want to achieve. Outcome is what I want to achieve more efficiency with time, is that something I want to achieve? Yes, great. That’s an outcome. I want to be more efficient with my time. Okay. As soon as I identify a goal like that, then I have to start looking at my own current world to see what my efficiency is like now. And so let’s just let’s just keep making this up. Okay. Let’s say that one thing that I identify is that I’m late on important deadlines,


about 80% of the time every week, about 80% of the time. So I’m just I’m going to make these really very straightforward kinds of examples. Just for the sake of this audio program. I have 10. I have 10 deadlines a week, and eight of them on a regular basis. I’m late on. Sometimes I’m an hour late. Sometimes I’m a day late. But 80% of the time, my weekly projects are deadlines, whatever those are, I’m late by a certain amount of time.

Sometimes it’s not a lot of time, and sometimes it’s it is okay. Now, I found something I can measure that would help me know if I’m achieving my goal. Now, just real real quickly here. We haven’t talked about output yet at all. We’re just focused on outcome. What is it that I want to achieve? Efficiency with time? So what I have to do first is not decide how I’m going to get better. That’s output. What I have to decide first is what measurement would show that I’m making progress toward my outcome? Well, one thing would be I wouldn’t be tardy on my deadlines. Perfect. I won’t be tardy on my deadlines. So what have I done there? I’ve isolated an area where I’m having trouble.

On this side of efficiency with my time I’ve isolated an area, what’s that area? I’m tardy with deadlines with these 10 projects I do every week. I’m tardy 80% of the time. Great. Not Well, no, not great, but good. Because now what we have is something we can measure to see if we’re getting better. We’ve determined that one of the things that would make me more efficient on the outcome side is to reduce that 80% number by X percentage points in a certain amount of time. Alright, so now I’m going to write an outcome goal. In the next three months, I want to reduce my 80% tardiness unhappiness by 40%. That means in the next three months, I want to go from eight out of 10 projects late to four out of 10.

Now, look, that’s, that’s 50% better. If you could pull that off in three months, you’re doing really good. If you can pull off 100%, then you were being super inefficient. And we found some things that you could do that were really low hanging fruit to get you there. But now I’m on the output side. So let’s just stay on the outcome side, one more time. Okay. And if you’re confused right now, about this outcome versus output, don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it. It will become clearer as you work on your own goals. Outcome, something I want to achieve. I want to achieve more efficiency with my time. Great. Now I have to then start looking at, well, where am I inefficient? That’s leading me away from my desired outcome? Well, how about deadlines? I’m missing eight out of 10.


Great, let’s try to put something around a measurement of that eight out of 10 that could show that you are getting closer to your outcome, which is more efficiency. All right. Well, how about if I, if I went from eight out of 10 to four out of 10? Would that be good? Yeah. How much time do you think it will take you to do that? How about three months. So let’s say the goal again, this is an outcome goal. In the next three months, I’m going to go from eight out of 10 of my project deadlines, to four out of 10 every week.

Okay, that’s good. If you can do if you could do that, it would be really good. That’s the outcome. Now you have something to measure on the outcome side. Now we could have chosen 100 Other ways to measure the outcome? Why did we choose that because the person that we’re making up here will let’s just call him Joe, the person that we’re making up here has a problem with deadlines, eight out of 10, actually, every week, so we’ve isolated what he needs to do differently and measure to get to his outcome of more efficiency. So his outcome measurement is moving that needle down from eight to four in three months. Great. We’re halfway there. Now we go to the output side. Now we start looking at Joe’s behavior, Joe, what’s keeping you from making your deadlines? And boy, here we go again, right?

There could be 1000 things that could be keeping Joe from his deadlines. But let’s say that Joe, Joe’s middle name is distraction, Joe distraction, Smith, and what we isolate for Joe, because we talked about it, right? So there’s a conversation probably with your leader, there’s a conversation that you have to have to get to this. This is where a coach can be handy. Your leader can be handy. A peer can be handy, you have to have somebody who’s asking you the right questions. And in this case, the right question is Hey, Joe, you’re missing these eight out of 10 deadlines. What do you think might be some of the reasons for that? And he’s like, Man, I don’t know. You know, I mean, well, Joe, tell me about your day. Like when do you start work? I started around eight. Okay. And then what do you do first? I read my email who, Joe? That’s not good. But let’s just keep going. Tell me more. I read my email and I answered emails for about 35 minutes. Okay. Okay. Are those related to your projects? No, they’re just things I don’t like that I haven’t accomplished yet. Okay. All right, but they’re not related to your projects. No. And if you didn’t answer them at eight o’clock, would people be unhappy with you? No. Okay.

All right. Noted. Okay, then what do you do, Joe? Well, and let’s say, let’s say that Joe’s being super honest, I pull up my apple newsfeed and I look at something because I saw a notification come through on my phone. Okay. And then and then unfortunately, that leads to 10 minutes of scrolling. Ah, Okay, and then what do you do? Well, I tried to get back, but you know, seven more emails have come in. And so now I answer those. Okay. And now it’s nine o’clock. Yeah. Then what do you do? Well, I have a meeting every morning at nine o’clock for 30 minutes.

Okay. And then and then what? Well, then what I what I take a break, and then I come back, and I try to start in one of my projects. But, you know, then the phone rings. Okay. And so I take that call. Okay, well, did you need to take that call? Well, afterward, I realized I probably could have let it go to voicemail. But I don’t like to do that. Because, you know, I mean, what if it was, you know, the CEO? Has the CEO ever directly called you about something? No, but you know, you never know. Okay, all right, keep going. And Joe tells me about his morning. And what we find out is, Joe is a distracted person. So what we’re going to try to do here, okay, in this particular scenario, is we’re going to try to help Joe, build the muscle of focus, we’re going to try to help him have more focus. Alright, Joe. So here’s what we’re going to try to do.


We’re gonna see if you can work on projects on these projects that are due for two hours a day. Do you think that’s possible, Joe? And now I can hear all your objections to this like, right, Dave, two hours a day, I’m sure. You don’t know, my world, just can you just let go of your objections on this for a minute and just stay with the pure example. And then we can dial in all of the different things that you’ll have to deal with to achieve your output goals. But just go with me here. Let’s say we identify that Joe’s got two hours a day that he can legitimately work on projects. And we also have identified that Joe needs a two minute break every 30 minutes. Okay. Now, here come two goals, output goals every day. So for five days a week, Joe, you’re going to work on your projects for two hours a day.

Okay, got it. Got it. Got it. Okay. It’d be great. If you could do it all at once. Joe, do you think you could do that? No, I can’t do that. All right, then you’re going to find two hours on Monday, two hours on Tuesday, and so forth. And you’re going to work with as extreme amount of focus as you can, for 25 minutes, then you’re going to take a two minute break. Then you’re going to work for extreme amount of focus as you possibly can. And that’s one hour. Okay, so here are your goals. 2468 10 hours a week of focus time on your projects, and 25 minutes of undistracted work before you take a two minute break and do another 25 minutes. All right, we’ve got our output goals now. Now. Now Joe is going to measure that. Hey, Joe, how’d you do last week on your goals? I got seven out of 10 hours.

Okay. Wow. That’s pretty good. Yeah, um, I got I got big time stuff done on a couple projects. But but then even though I got those seven hours, yeah, I didn’t actually work straight through those 25 minutes every, every one of those hours. Okay, what happened? Well, a notification came up on my phone. And I just have to admit, I looked at it. And 10 minutes later, I realized I was watching YouTube. Oh, Joe, Joe, Joe, Joe, your middle name, Joe. So we go back and we say, okay, Joe, we’re gonna have to figure out how to help you move things out of the way so that you don’t look at them. So Joe, during your 25 minutes, you’re going to turn off all your notifications and put your phone upside down or put it in the other freaking room. The CEO is not going to call you. And if the CEO would happen to call you and it went to voicemail and you called back 17 minutes later, I think you’re okay. I think you’re okay. Now just let all your objections go.

When I’m saying whatever I’m saying. I think you’re going to be okay, Joe. Now what we’re doing is we’re adding some more output to Joe’s goal to try to help him reach that 25 minutes. In that hour, take a break. 25 more minutes, right. We are now adding more goals, more output goals, more actions, turn on your focus on your computer, put your phone in the other room. You know, don’t look at any news. You know, there are lots of apps now that even help with this where you can go to screen or it’s sometimes it’s even called, you know, focus screen or whatever, right? I won’t belabor this, but you get the point. What are we doing? We’re adjusting output goals. To get him to his outcome goal. What’s his outcome goal?


I in three months, I want to be at four out of 10, rather than eight of 10 of my projects being late. Okay, so Joe does this for a month. Right, Joe? How’d you do? Okay, I in my month, out of the out of the 40 hours, right? Because it’s 10 hours a week. So out of the 40 hours, I should have worked on my projects. I did 29. Okay. And out of those 2917 of them, I was actually able to do the 25 minutes, take a two minute break and do 25 minutes more. Okay. All right, Joe, did any of your projects that are usually late, get turned in on time? Yeah, they did. How many to Ha ha, ha. Nice.

Nice, Joe. So now you went from eight out of 10 tardy projects, to six out of 10. In one month, we’re doing something right, we may not have identified everything, but we are on to something, let’s do, let’s keep going and see what else we can do. And then we would have another conversation. And we’d see if we just need to keep doing the same output goals, or we need to adjust them in some way to get him to that magic for in three months. And, folks, this is how we make changes to reach outcome goals. This is the best we know right now. Now there’s lots more to it. There’s lots of good social science and, and, and biology science to this, like our brains are wired a certain way.

And they’re wired to be more amenable to smaller chunks, right. That’s why we did the 25 minutes. That’s why we need focus. There were we need to check in regularly on goals and see our progress. If we don’t have progress on goals, you know, short enough chunks of progress, we get deflated. But we also need to keep our eye on the bigger goal, four out of 10, four out of 10 move from eight to four out of 10. That’s our bigger goal. And we need to even look at the bigger goal. What’s the bigger goal, more efficiency with my time, more efficiency, I want more efficiency with my time. Why? Because I will not only do better for my company, but I will do better for myself, I will become known as someone who can get stuff done. And that’s good for my reputation. And for my career, right? We need all of that, to help us reach our goals. But we can come back just to the very few things we’ve talked about here.

What do you want to achieve? What do you want to achieve? That’s your outcome? How would you know you’ve achieved that or at least are making strides toward that, that’s your outcome measurement. I want to move from eight to four in three months. And if I can do that, that will show me I am making progress toward my higher goal, my outcome goal. What is that to be more efficient? Okay, well, what are you going to do over the next three months to try to get there. Now we’re on the output side, I’m going to I’m going to do the finding the 10 hours, and I’m going to try to stay faithful to those 10 hours. And I’m going to focus inside those two hours a day. 25 minutes, take a two minute break 25 minutes, I’m going to try to get to that, let’s say three months down the road, we say to Joe Hey, Joe, how you doing? And let’s say Joe has just knocked it out of the park. Joe over the last three months has gotten 24 hours, the average is 24 out of 30 hours and 40 hours. So let’s make it even higher 34 out of 40 hours is his average over the three months. And he has 27 of those hours have been focused with that 2525 drill that he’s doing. And guess what Joe? Joe did? He got to in the last week of the third month. Seven of his deadlines turned in on time and only three were tardy. Now the teeter totter has shifted the other direction and Joe is succeeding more than he is, quote, failing. This is powerful stuff. This is powerful stuff. So the best way to understand this is to do it. And that’s what we’ll be doing over the next


months together, learning how to write out common output goals, learning how to check in on them regularly, and seeing if they make a difference in the things that matter to you. Very excited to be with you coming up here in the next month. And then we’re going to stay with this, your leaders are going to help you with these goals. This is not about a pressurized shaming or guilting. Exercise this look this, actually, I hope you can see that this can be actually fun. It’s also fun to see the progress but it’s fun to even figure out like what can I do to be better in this area? What outcome do I want? How can I measure that outcome? And then what steps and actions could I take and how would I measure those to get to that? And then is it working? Or should I adapt? I mean, look, we’re gonna go through the day anyway. Why not go through the day, getting better. Looking forward to being with you. This is Dave Fleming at the ingenuity lab. Fresh hot bagels