Setting and achieving healthy goals is essential in our career and personal life. Creating clear and specific goals for yourself helps you gain the skills and abilities to perform well and move up the ladder. Whilst there are many methods you can follow to meet your set goals, one important thing that determines your success is understanding what it means to be task-oriented and goal-oriented.
As human beings we are naturally programmed to do things. We engage ourselves with doing different tasks and choose to value those tasks that require us to put effort into completing them. Since we are taught from early on that effort leads to reward, we often get so focused on putting effort into tasks so much that we lose sight of the bigger picture. This is where knowing which option is better makes the difference.
So, what it means to be task-oriented
Being task-oriented means being present-focused. Task-oriented people focus more on getting things done and being efficient in the here and now. It is putting priority on being fully present in order to do your best work for the given task. Even if the big picture is not apparent, they can be content with doing their best with the given task.
You are task-oriented if you believe in completing short-term tasks or objectives and value structure, clearly defined roles and schedules. Since your main focus is doing the task to the best of your ability, you look for different productivity tools to improve the quality and efficiency of your work. You make use of different time management techniques, daily and weekly to-do lists and other task tracking apps.
Task-oriented leaders concentrate on directing team strengths and setting strategies. They mainly focus on achieving goals, setting clear processes and deadlines to ensure all of their team members deliver their work within the designated time. And choose to challenge themselves with the set deadlines and schedules.
- Task-oriented strive towards achieving their goals within specific deadlines. Since they have clarity of the objectives they need to achieve for the day, they are good at meeting their daily objectives that makes a difference to the big picture goals.
- Leaders who are task-oriented are of directive style. They know how to divide the work according to the strengths of those they lead or manage. So, they are good at delegating tasks and at distributing different roles among their employees. This helps them provide required work tools, guidance, information and resources. and makes it easier for everyone to achieve the potential they want.
- They provide direct and specific instructions, deadlines, and targets. With clearly defined goals, job roles and expectations, they ensure that everyone is on the same page. This proves to be more productive by reducing busyness and cutting down on unnecessary processes. As a result, they come up with better ways and strategies to get work done. And their teams become well equipped in achieving key results and objectives that makes a difference to the overall performance of a workplace.
- Being task-oriented can sometimes result in becoming stuck and burned out with your everyday responsibilities, and without furthering your long-term goals. Always worrying for deadlines, and stress to tackle too many tasks might lower your productivity.
- Certain task-oriented leaders might end up ignoring emotional and personal needs of those they lead or manage. This can result in negative work environments and low employee morale.
- People who are task-oriented might tend to remain closed to creative pursuits, or spontaneous ideas as they highly focus on fixed timelines and have less or no flexibility in completing the tasks. They can often lack interest, inspiration and enthusiasm to explore new ideas.
What it means to be goal-oriented
Being goal-oriented means being task-oriented to achieve a desired goal/outcome. To be goal-oriented means knowing what you want to accomplish and why you want to accomplish it. They need to see the bigger picture or the why behind every action they take. So, they concentrate on the larger perspective of their goal rather than the mundane tasks that don’t make a difference to their larger goal.
You are goal-oriented if you are driven and motivated by purpose. Since your larger goal is worth having, you tend to block time and focus on those tasks or the processes that are required for you to accomplish it. And since your goal can be achieved only over a considerable period of time, or some time in the future, you make use of tools like vision boards, yearly/ monthly planners, journals and other goal tracking tools.
- Goal-oriented people are good at planning and devising strategies to reach their goals. They are not bogged down with minor obstacles or challenges. And any small setbacks can be easily worked upon as they remain focused on big picture goals.
- Their optimistic perspective can help them focus on solutions over issues, and encourage productivity while working towards goals. This helps them to decide which tasks are to be completed and in what order to meet their set targets.
- Goal-oriented leaders know where they want to be and can measure their progress or know how far they have come. They are critical thinkers at establishing goals, scheduling tasks and adjusting their priorities to be as effective as possible in achieving their goals.
Being goal-oriented however can sometimes prove to be disadvantageous. Focusing mainly on the bigger picture might lead to undermining the process or smaller tasks that will get you there. Also, if your goal happens to be complex, fear of failure might become a potent de-motivator while working for goals that seem too far to reach. Since there are no immediate rewards in sight for your larger goal, one might get de-motivated from time to time.
So, which is a better, task-oriented or goal-oriented?
Each of us has a different approach when it comes to achieving our desired goals. While both approaches are not mutually exclusive, successful goal achievement involves both depending on what the situation calls for. There are situations when having task-oriented mindset is beneficial. But when it comes to achieving your long-term goals, you need to focus on creating effective goals that align with your bigger vision and purpose.
On the other hand, though being goal-oriented can lead to impactful results and is more conducive for long-term success, you might struggle with managing minor tasks and detailing. Also, it may appear that being task-oriented is often an easier way out, but at the end of the day, if these are not aligned with your larger goals—(personal, finance, relationship, career or organisational), they might not have a meaningful impact on your life.
If you look to completing a series of smaller tasks, you will inevitably have smaller gains. So, it is important to have a bigger picture goals. This will positively impact the types of goals you set in the long run. Here are some ways to enhance your productivity.
If you are task-oriented,
“Nothing gives a person inner wholeness and openness like a distinct understanding of where they are going.”Thomas Oppong
Set measurable goals and clear objectives for specific tasks. Sort tasks based on their importance and create a plan to complete those tasks. The Eisenhower Matrix is a great tool to use to help you decide on and prioritise tasks by their importance and urgency—Try doing those tasks that are important and urgent immediately. Decide when you will do tasks are important, but not urgent. Push tasks that are not important and urgent for later, and delegate tasks that are urgent, but not important.
Time manage your tasks
One of the most important factor that impedes productivity of task-oriented people is stress and burnout. Learning how to better manage your time will not only boost personal productivity, but also helps you better manage your time. Set realistic timeframes for your tasks and allow adequate time for your task completion. You can do so by creating schedules, to-do lists and calendars.
Using time-management tools and techniques like Pomodoro Technique time boxing, time blocking, Eat that Frog technique, and Getting Things Done (GTD)
Plan your action steps
Just mindlessly going through your daily tasks without a plan in place can lead to unhelpful habits and unproductive work environment. Most people tend to focus on the easier tasks, leaving the hard or boring for later. But those pending jobs pile up and become more difficult to tackle. Having a process or an action plan on the other hand can help you to avoid busyness.
Setting incremental milestones, and reward systems in place will motivate you to stay on task. A key part in becoming productive if you are a task-oriented leader is to know strengths and weaknesses of those doing the tasks so as to delegate them successfully. Similarly, setting distinct deadlines and incentives for timely completion of tasks, you can engage everyone in getting more done.
Adopt a learning mindset
While being task-oriented may help you meet your objectives, it may not help you grow as an individual. This holds true for you as a leader. To curb this, you can create work-focused goals or set goals that make you more fulfilling. Similarly, as a task-oriented leader, being more mindful of what your employees are getting out of the goals they work towards, and creating a learning environment for them to develop new skills can prove to be more productive.
If you are goal-oriented,
Align with your purpose
If you are goal-oriented, make sure you have a compelling vision and purpose behind your goals. It is only when you understand your ‘why’ that you will be more capable of pursuing the things that you really want to. And making sure that your ‘why’ is in line with your priority values serves as your point of reference for all your actions. By having a clear ‘why’, you create meaningful tasks that truly matter. Use vision boards or other visual tools to constantly remind you of the scope of the big picture goals you have set for yourself.
Set clear goals
Your purpose and vision of what you want your future to look like is mostly general and abstract. To help turn your vision into a reality is to set clearly defined goals that are achievable and realistic. Your goals may change over time, and they should allow room for detours. Goals need not always be grandiose and life-changing, they can be personal and simplistic. Set short-term and medium-term goals. And if your goals seem to be too big and create a sense of overwhelm, break them into smaller and manageable goals.
You will have your ups and downs in life, but no matter what your circumstances are, you can always work towards your goals if you stay committed. The key is to adjust the actions you are taking depending on your circumstances. During some periods of your life, you will be able to make a lot of progress with your goals, and during other times, you might need to slow down a bit.
When dealing with obstacles, pause and take time out to do something different to gain a fresh perspective. When you are pursuing your big goal, acknowledge that you might make mistakes and fail. And thing always don’t go according to your plans. Persevere and stay committed by reminding yourself of your ‘why’ you started to pursue this goal in the first place.
Develop positive habits
We are our habits. And how successful we get in achieving our goals depends on our personal habits. Our daily habits, behaviours and choices ultimately determine what actions we take on a daily basis. Most of our unhelpful habits are a way to cope with stress and boredom. They lead to procrastination, distraction, with an urge to seek some sort of emotional or physical; comfort.
Finding motivating rewards and changing your cue, routine, reward loop can help you to replace them with productive ones. The best way to form a new helpful habits is to ask yourself, “What habits do I need to develop to achieve my bigger picture goals?”
Reflect and Review your progress
Self-reflection is a very important part of goal achievement process. Reflecting on the milestones reached and reviewing what changes should be made will lead you to your next action steps. Reflection helps you to learn from your mistakes, or determine what worked and what did not work. What makes many people fail at achieving their bigger goal is not reviewing and being flexible with their processes.
Overtime your big goal may not remain relevant or needs to change with new ideas or information. Being reflective and reviewing your goals from time to time makes you flexible to change the terms of your goal. You can do so by reframing your goal to make it more relevant and redirect your efforts towards improving it.
Questions for self reflection
Are you task oriented or goal-oriented?
Which goals do you tend to prioritise—short-term or long-term?
Do you often struggle with daily onslaught of urgent tasks?
How many of your to-do tasks are with realistic timeframes?
Are you a long-term thinker? Or do you have the need to be busy and occupied with doing something?
How congruent are your big picture goals with your daily habits and behaviours?
Though both are important for any goal-setting process, being aware of your approach makes you better equipped to better manage your goals. Being only goal-oriented is not enough to keep you from failing. You also need to be strategic enough to your daily tasks that help you move closer to your big goal.
Similarly, merely moving from task to task each day also doesn’t leave you much room to be strategic about your big goals. Regardless of what your approach is, a better way to goal achievement is to tie your daily tasks to a purposeful goal, and be more flexible to make course correction when necessary to modify the chosen tasks in reaching it.
More Reads on goal-setting and personal productivity
Are you distracted? Here is how to disconnect from your distractions
Is boredom making you procrastinate on your goals? Here is How to get back on track
Set intentions to make your goals more attainable
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