Lead Goals Vs. Lag Goals

Last year I noticed something awkward. I was looking in the mirror and someone I didn’t fully recognize was looking back at me.

The guy looked very familiar. He looked like an older, fatter version of me.

I rubbed my eyes and looked again. It is me.

Somehow I grew up and got fat. I wasn’t the same pencil necked skinny geek that graduated high school almost 30 years ago. I was a belly bulging adult.

I was thin when I graduated high school. Not by choice. I could eat anything and wouldn’t gain weight. At graduation I was a little over 160 pounds. Not skinny to some but when you’re 6 foot 4 inches tall, that’s underweight.

After looking at that old guy in the mirror I decided to weigh myself. If you rounded what the scale said to the nearest pound I was 230 pounds. 70 pounds over 30 years.

As Neo said in the Matrix, “Whoa!”

I made a goal to get down to around 200 pounds. That’s a lag goal.

Lag Goals

Lag goals are those things that are what you ultimately want to achieve. When you read about making goals, this is what they’re usually talking about.

Lag goals are things like income and thing goals. They’re the things you want to achieve.

You want to earn $100k. You want to write a book. You want to play the piano. You have lag goals.

To get rid of the extra skin hanging over the edge of my pants I figure I need to get to around 200 lbs. (My actual goal is 19% body fat but most people understand weight and not body fat.)

This is a lag goal because it lags behind the effort you put out today.

Lag goals are hard to control. They’re a dream, or something you hope to achieve, unless you put out some effort. But today’s effort won’t instantly give you your result.

That’s why you need lead goals.

Lead Goals

Lead goals are smaller daily goals.

Lead goals drive your lag goals.

Lead goals are easier to control. In fact, they’re all you can control. They can often become habits.

You may have a deadline to achieve your lag goal but it’s the effort you put out today, tomorrow, and everyday to come that allows you to actually achieve your lag goal.

To achieve my weight goal I realized I can only control 2 things: the food I eat and the physical activity I perform (unless I opt for cosmetic surgery), that’s it.

What daily activities drive your income goal? How many pages do you need to write each day to finish you book? How much practice do you need each day to play the piano well?

That’s all you can control. And you want to create daily lead goals for these to measure.

Lead Goals and Lag Goals

What’s your big goal? Are you on track to hitting it?

Stop trying to get pumped up and motivated to achieve it. Make it fun. Think of it as a problem to be solved.

Break it down into daily lead goals. You can control that. Make them into habits. And your lag goals will naturally fall into place.

For me it was monitoring my food and exercise. Monitoring food is much easier than exercise (however, I do both now). In less than a year I’m 20 pounds lighter and feeling stronger than I ever have.

I don’t stress about the food I eat. Some days I eat more than I want but I know I have more good days than bad.

And when you have lead goals that work you’ll have more good days than bad too. You won’t need to panic if you have a bad day. Things happen. And good things begin to naturally fall into place.

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