Lead Measures vs. Lag Measures

At the beginning of 2021, I made the decision to do open goals. I didn't know what to expect but there was one thing for certain — it made me uncomfortable. So I ran towards it. I published the following open goals for the next 8 week period:

-100 hrs deep work

-24x weight training

-Climb 32k vertical ft. on skis

-Write & publish daily

-No alcohol

While reflecting on Week 1, I realized I went against a principle one of my mentors taught me — set lead measures rather than lag measures.

Lead Measures vs. Lag Measures

Lag measures track the success of your wildly important goal. Lag measures are things like revenue, profit, quality, and customer satisfaction. Most people set lag measure goals by nature.

Lag Measure Examples

Professional: Generate 100k annual recurring revenue

Physical: Lose 20lbs.

Personal: Be a better husband to my wife

Lead measures track the critical activities that drive you towards your goals. These are activities in which you can control.

Lead Measure Examples

Professional: 12 hrs deep work per week

Physical: Lift weights 3x per week. Do outdoor cardio 2x per week

Personal: Send my wife a good morning text 3x per week

"Climb 32k vertical ft. on skis" is a lag measure goal. This goal doesn't clearly outline a course of action. It's the same as someone saying, "My goal is to generate 100k revenue in 2021."

That's great, but this framework doesn't provide a clear course of action to be followed by the goal setter.

If you're setting these types of goals, here's a good question to ask yourself:

"What activities can I complete on a weekly basis that, if completed consistently, would get me closer to the goal of generating 100k revenue this year?"

Some lead measures that come to my mind for a goal like this are things like, 100 cold calls per week, 100 cold emails per week, etc.

So, rather than publishing my 32k ft. hiking goal, I could have further broken the goal down with the following thought process:

"I assume that I have the time to climb 2x per week.

An average climb is just shy of 2k ft.

Therefore, if I climb the same route on average 2x per week for the next 8 weeks, I'll hit the 32k goal if I add in another climb somewhere during the 8 week period."

My open goal should have been more specific like this:

"Climb a 2k ft. vertical route 2x per week"


Because setting goals with a lead measure principle clearly outlines a specific course of action — one in which the goal setter has control over. Completing the specific outlined actions on a weekly basis leads the goal setter to the desired outcome (lag measure) with time.

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