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Process > Outcome

I was recently listening to a podcast and the woman being interviewed was a journalist who went on leave to play professional poker. She was being mentored by one of the most prominent professional poker players and he told her something along the lines of, "distinguish the action and the outcome from the thought process." In poker this means that you can't be married to the outcome because sometimes you might have the thought process right, but you end up with the low end of the probability stick. The probability was in your favor but you simply got unlucky. In poker, making decisions in uncertainty means you have to align your process with the highest probabilities.

I want to talk about how distinguishing the outcome from the process is important for your health and fitness life as well...

When people come into the gym they have specific goals. They want to lose 20lbs of fat, gain 15lbs of muscle, lose 40lbs, increase the strength on their squat, etc. I think it is important to have a clear understanding and outline of your goals, but you shouldn't be too married to them.

What do I mean?

I think it is much more important to be more attached to the process. If you become too focused on your long-term goals you can start to get discouraged by any sort of deviation away from them. Say you lose 5lbs in two weeks, but on the third week you gain back a pound. You are still on a net negative weight loss from when you started, but the gain of a pound sticks out more in our minds. That is just how we are wired as humans. Losses effect us to a greater degree than positives.

If you can focus more on the process and what habits you can create, whose effect will compound over time, you are much more likely to achieve your goals. More importantly, you start to change your identity. You start to become someone who is healthy and who exercises consistently. This change in your mind is just as important than the work itself. If you are constantly worried about your end goal and what you don't have it becomes a losing strategy. Scott Adams who wrote the Dilbert comic strip says, "a goal is, by definition, one way to win and infinite ways to lose. A good system gives you lots of ways to win and far fewer ways to fail." I think we need to be more systems and process oriented.

The last thing I will leave you with, which is another reason I think you should focus more on the process than the outcome, is something I recently heard in a podcast. A guy was describing something his meditation teacher said to him about exercise. He said, "don't exercise because you hate your body, exercise because you love your body."

What can you do today that will start creating a better process?

Email me at if you need any help in starting to create better systems to reach your goals!

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