I’ve written a lot about how I use a goal-setting process with students (see The Best Posts On Students Setting Goals).

A key part of that is helping students understand the difference between “learning goals” and “performance goals” (see “Learning Goals” versus “Performance Goals”). A “learning goal” might be “I want to read books that have a higher-level vocabulary,” while a “performance goal” could be “I want to get an A in class.” Part of that discussion is showing students research that finds those who focus on learning goals actually “out-perform” those who emphasize performance goals. Every time I ask students why they think that is the case, they easily hit the nail on the head with reasons like “They will take shortcuts,’ etc.

This morning, Alexander Russo (his blog is a must-read for all educators, as I’ve said many times) shared an article appearing in New York Magazine titled Big Goals Can Backfire. Olympians Show Us What to Focus on Instead.

It’s a great article that can be used to reinforce and refine the importance of focusing on learning goals. The piece doesn’t use the terms “learning goals” and “performance goals.” However, I think its discussion of “focusing on the process” is equivalent to “learning goal.” The author compares that with “measurable outcome” goals and “big hairy audacious goals,” which I think are equivalent to “performance goals.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the piece: