“My goal in 2024 is to accomplish the goals I set in 2023. Which I should have done in 2022. Because I made a promise in 2021.” - Unknown 

There is plenty of research on goal setting and the science of achievement. In a general review by Dr. Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham, the consensus was that difficult goals help us achieve more than "do your best" goal setting. Meaning your long-term grand goal should be a bit of a stretch. In their research they state, “In 90% of the studies reviewed specific and challenging goals led to a higher performance than easy goals. As to “do your best” or no goals at all. Goals affect performance by directing attention, mobilizing effort, increasing persistence and encouraging strategy development."

A major mindset shift is found in creating and living in the outcome instead of chasing the goal. Like the proverbial “act as if!” affirmation we often hear and say suggests. Later in this article I will provide real-world examples we all know and can relate with regarding living your outcome rather than chasing your goal. But first, let’s identify how to turn your goals into outcomes.

Writing Your Outcomes

With a realistic but challenging goal in mind, program your mind by writing and answering it out:

  • Can you write out your goal succinctly?
  • Have you made sure it is possible and attainable?
  • Can you say it in the present as though it has already happened? 
  • Can you focus on and write out what it will feel like? 
  • A date and time in which you will be completing it? (This may be months or years. There is no limit to goal size)

Now, having something meaningful to work toward is extremely motivating. However, it needs to be approached with intention rather than wishful thinking. Now we focus on those small daily tasks that lead us to the overall outcome. We get to do the work that provides the outcome. 

“The great victory, which appears so simply today, was the result of a series of small victories that went unnoticed.” - Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist

Famous Outcome Examples

Bruce Lee wrote a letter in 1969 telling himself he would be “the best-known Oriental movie star in the United States.” And make 10 million dollars. If he just wrote the letter and did nothing else, he probably would not have become exactly that ten years later. What got him there were all the daily efforts, refining his craft, training, and learning. Small wins along the way. From The Green Hornet, to Enter the Dragon

In 1985, Jim Carrey wrote himself a Ten Million dollar check. He dated it ten years in the future for “acting services rendered.” As a fledgling actor and comedian struggling to find work, he carried the check in his wallet everywhere he went. If acting didn’t work out, he would likely return to Canada to work in a steel mill. But it did. Ten years after writing that check, Carrey became such a big success that he would earn as much as 25 million dollars a movie. 

Trevor's Recent Article: How To Make Gains In Your Offseason

Communicating Your Outcome

Outcome belief does not just work in Hollywood either. When I started working with Stacy ‘Bama’ Burr, she had already achieved all-time world record status as a lifter. Prior to us starting together, she had experienced some burn plus wear and tear. Another lifter had also beaten her wraps total. We began our coach/athlete relationship and had a meet in mind later in the year. The meet day arrives, and Stacy breaks the ATWR squat, ties the full power bench, and reclaims her ATWR total. But during the meet she asked to put a number on the bar to give her something more significant. It was not until after this meet that I would learn her true and grand goal. She missed that lift but still got high-fives from everyone on her way outside. I followed in pursuit to find Stacy very upset. 

The grand goal was far more than a number or an achievement. It was a promise to her then-dying grandfather that she would be the strongest in the world. “Best in the world” was the promise she made, and the all-time Wilks score (now Dots) was the intention to fulfill that promise. Now we had an outcome to work towards. 

We figured out the numbers, what she needed to weigh, and what she needed to total. Then we figured out the timeline; March next year at the XPC meet. We also determined this needed to be done in eight attempts. “Done in eight” became a slogan. We also decided Stacy would leave her home and move into mine like a fight camp during the last seven weeks of prep.

Now we had an action plan. We even gathered a crew to meet us for every heavy squat to help create a meet-like environment. Every day we ate, slept, and breathed the outcome, and Stacy journaled the outcome every single day. Not only that but by the time the meet day had arrived, Stacy already had boxes of shirts printed that said “best in the world” with her picture on them. She went all in on belief and spoke it into existence. 

Living the Outcome

Meet day arrived, and Stacy broke the ATWR squat again. She benched 320 pounds and when she went for 330 pounds, she cramped hard. We lost ten pounds that we needed. Stacy opened at 500 pounds for deads, and she needed 50 pounds more to get the total we needed. However, we were “done in 8," she was “the best in the world,” and this was all mapped out ahead of time. This time she did not ask for a number. She told me what she was pulling on her second—550 pounds, which would be a 22-pound PR!

For only the second time in all of her prep, Stacy remembered to “tuck your chin!” I can be seen screaming it behind her in the videos. She finished with 1435 pounds at 148-pound weight class for the then-highest ever Wilks score. But more importantly to Stacy, she fulfilled her promise, and that is where “WE DID IT” came from. 

To sum this all up, outcomes are success driven. Goals are dream driven. Live your outcome! 

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Trevor Jaffe has been a competitive strength athlete for over 18 years. He has received first place finishes in strongman, weightlifting, and places his primary focus on powerlifting. With top lifts of a 683lb squat and an 815lb deadlift, he has totaled International Elite in three weight classes (181, 198 and 220). Trevor currently has coached over 27 all-time world records with 8 separate athletes - Dallas Norris, Jenn Rotsinger, Ashley Garcia, Phil Herndon, Jordan Wong, Stacy “Bama”Burr, Danny Misencik and as an ATWR holder himself.

At the time, Stacy had set the highest ever Wilks score for powerlifting across both male and female athletes, as well as federation, world, national, and state records. Trevor currently holds the masters ATWR total for 181 and deadlift, the 198 and 220 class ATWR deadlift as well. Affectionately known as "the deadlift whisperer" for his ability to improve this specific lift, Trevor is also known for his ability to improve a lifter’s mechanics and technique leading to larger totals in a short time frame and significantly prolonging an athletes competitive career. Trevor is also the host of “Conversations with Coaches” a weekly interview series with coaches across various strength fields.