Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | September 15, 2008

Process vs. Outcome Goals

In my last two posts, I introduced the SMART Goal process.  SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.  They are an excellent way to create a foundation for a successful, long term exercise program.  However, when it comes to the goal setting process, I have one additional suggestion.  Start with process goals as opposed to outcome goals.  You are probably more familiar with outcome goals.  The examples I listed in my previous post are outcome goals (e.g., to lose weight, to reduce LDL cholesterol) and these are very important.  However, it has been my experience that when people fail to achieve their outcome goals (which is common because many of us set unattainable goals), they become demoralized and quit their exercise regimen.  Process goals focus more on the implementation of your exercise program.  For example, a good process goal would be “to exercise 4 times this week for at least 30 minutes per workout.”  You have more control over accomplishing this goal and it will help you get in the habit of exercising.  Some additional examples of effective process goals include the following:

  • Walk 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
  • Find an exercise partner in the next 3 weeks.
  • Buy an exercise journal and record my workouts on a daily basis.
  • Run a total of 15 miles a week for the next 4 weeks.
  • Get my old bike fixed and ride it twice a week for the next two months.
  • Ride my bike 40 miles a week for the next 4 weeks.
  • Swim 3 days a week for 30 minutes each workout.
  • Measure my daily caloric intake and record it in my exercise journal.
  • Complete a fitness assessment in the next 30 days.


NEXT POST – September 19, 2008



  1. I’m just starting to exercise, and I really think it’s working out this time as opposed to before, because I have been doing this. Instead of having an outcome goal, I just make myself run 30 minutes 3 times a week.

  2. I love your approach. I’ve alway intuitively been a process oriented goal person… I guess that’s why I came up with a sustainable process for my daily exercise routine. I just get up and do a 7 to 15 minute round of Body’Fit pH Fitness™ (short form… pHx™) as a matter of course.

  3. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  4. Thank you for this post…..Whether you are looking for a way to lose weight, gain more energy or simply achieve a higher level of health, the right nutrition and fitness program is a good first step. These 2 components work together to provide the body with the right nutrients and physical activity to maintain optimal weight and a stronger, healthier body. However, many people start out with a workout and nutrition plan, only to drop the program after a matter of days or weeks because it was too difficult to maintain. Creating a realistic nutrition and exercise plan is the key to creating healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

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