A Fresh Perspective on Goal-Setting: The PACT Goals Technique

A Fresh Perspective on Goal-Setting: The PACT Goals Technique
Photo by Ronnie Overgoor / Unsplash

In the vast landscape of goal-setting strategies, I stumbled upon a technique that you have probably never heard of. Known as the PACT Goals Technique, it emphasizes the journey over the destination, focusing on the output of tasks rather than the outcome. This goal setting technique was created by Anne-Laure Le Cunff, who has one of my favorite newsletters - an absolute recommendation. This shift in perspective is not just a semantic play, but a fundamental reorientation of how we approach our goals. It's a refreshing departure from traditional goal-setting methods, which often emphasize the end result, and it's based on the belief that the journey is as important, if not more important, than the destination.

Breaking Down PACT Goals

PACT stands for Purposeful, Actionable, Continuous, and Trackable. Each component plays a critical role in this approach:

  • Purposeful: Goals should be aligned with a broader purpose or mission. This alignment provides a sense of direction and motivation, serving as a compass to guide our actions. It's not just about setting a goal; it's about understanding why that goal is important to us, how it aligns with our values, and how it contributes to our larger purpose. This sense of purpose fuels our motivation and resilience, especially when we encounter obstacles or setbacks.

  • Actionable: Goals should be broken down into actionable tasks. This approach makes the goal more tangible and achievable, reducing the risk of feeling overwhelmed. Instead of focusing on a large, daunting goals, we focus on small, manageable tasks that we can take action on immediately. This shift in focus can significantly reduce the anxiety and procrastination often associated with big goals, making it easier to take the first step and maintain momentum.

  • Continuous: Progress should be continuous, even if it's slow. This aspect emphasizes the importance of consistency and persistence in achieving our goals. It's not about making giant leaps; it's about making consistent, incremental progress. Even small steps, if taken consistently, can lead to significant results over time. This approach also allows us to adapt and adjust our actions as we learn and grow, making our journey more flexible and responsive to changing circumstances.

  • Trackable: Goals should be trackable to monitor progress and make necessary adjustments. This component provides a feedback mechanism that allows us to learn and improve as we move forward. By tracking our progress, we can see how far we've come, celebrate our successes, and identify areas where we need to adjust our strategies or efforts. This continuous feedback loop is critical to keeping us motivated and ensuring that we're moving in the right direction.

PACT Goals in Context

To fully appreciate the value of PACT goals, it's helpful to compare them with other common goal-setting techniques. For instance, the widely used SMART goals technique emphasizes Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals. While this approach has its merits, it focuses primarily on the outcome and often overlooks the importance of the process. In contrast, the PACT Goals technique emphasizes the output of tasks, focusing on the journey rather than the destination. This shift in focus can make the goal-setting process more engaging and the achievement of goals more satisfying.

So what's wrong with SMART goals? Let's take an example. Say you want to learn to code. That wouldn't fit into the SMART goal-setting framework. How would you know how long it would take? What if you felt it was unattainable? What if it's not relevant to what you're doing now, but you want to do it because you're planning a career change or want to be able to work on a side project? Does that mean learning to code is not a good life goal?

SMART version of a goal:“Get 5,000 subscribers in the first year of Agile Toddler.”
PACT version of a goal: “Publish 20 newsletters over the next year."

PACT Goals in Practice

The PACT Goals technique is not just a theoretical concept; it has practical implications and has been successfully implemented in various settings. For example, in the realm of agile working, Scrum teams often use a similar approach, breaking down complex projects into smaller, manageable tasks (user stories) that align with the overall project goal. This approach would allow for continuous progress, regular feedback and adjustments, leading to more efficient and effective project management. And don't forget, a system without a goal is like a marathon without a finish line, and a system with a bad goal will result in a bad outcome.

Moreover, this approach is not limited to professional environments. It can be applied to personal goals as well, whether it's learning a new skill, improving health and fitness, or pursuing a creative project. By focusing on purposeful, actionable, ongoing, and trackable tasks, we can make our personal goals more manageable, enjoyable, and ultimately achievable.

The Psychology Behind PACT Goals

Given the psychological underpinnings of the PACT Goals technique, it's worth taking a closer look at how this approach aligns with psychological principles and research. For example, the actionable and continuous components of PACT Goals are consistent with the literature on habit formation, which emphasizes the importance of consistency and repetition in establishing new behaviors. Similarly, the goal-directed component is consistent with research on intrinsic motivation, which suggests that goals that align with our personal interests and values are more motivating and satisfying to pursue.

A Shift in Perspective

In summary, the PACT Goals Technique offers a fresh perspective on goal setting. It challenges the traditional focus on results and encourages a more holistic approach that values the journey as much as the destination. With its emphasis on purpose, action, continuity, and accountability, this method provides a robust framework for setting and achieving goals in a variety of contexts.

In a world where we are often overwhelmed by the magnitude of our ambitions, the PACT Goal Technique serves as a reminder that every journey begins with a single step. It encourages us to focus on the process, take consistent action, and track our progress, making our goals more attainable and our journey more enjoyable.

By shifting our focus from outcomes to outputs, from results to actions, we can transform the way we approach our goals. We can make the journey more meaningful, the process more engaging, and the achievement of our goals more satisfying. So as we set our goals, let's remember to make them Purposeful, Actionable, Continuous, and Trackable. Let's embrace the PACT Goal Technique and embark on a journey that values the process as much as the destination.