Career Development

10 Tips for Being More Goal-Oriented at Work

February 8, 2021

Being goal-oriented is a valuable personal quality that can produce impactful results in your career. No matter your level, job title or industry, it is important to learn the ability to navigate the process of setting goals, reviewing your progress and revising your strategy. In this article, we explore ways you can adopt a goal-oriented mindset and improve your skills to accomplish objectives.

What does being goal-oriented mean?

Being goal-oriented means you are focused on reaching or completing specific tasks to achieve a planned outcome. People who are goal-oriented are driven and motivated by purpose. Also known as being task-driven or results-driven, someone who is goal-oriented uses targets to stay motivated in their work.

Goal-oriented professionals practice a variety of skills that allow them to set realistic goals, challenge simple objectives and track their progress. Some skills and qualities that help goal-oriented individuals succeed include:

  • Planning and organization: You can plan the steps it takes to reach each goal, arrange tasks in a logical order and gather the resources you need so they are easily accessible.

  • Positivity: An optimistic perspective can help you focus on solutions over issues, increase confidence and support productivity while working toward goals.

  • Self-awareness: Some goal-setting strategies require you to understand your strengths and identify areas of improvement. This awareness can assist you in seeking results that impact your success.

  • Decision-making: There may be tasks that are more urgent or vital to your objectives. You may need to review the options, anticipate the outcomes and decide which tasks you need to complete and in what order.

  • Time management: Establish clear deadlines to ensure you make progress on your goals. You can use scheduling or calendar management to assign yourself short-term milestones that lead to achieving long-term goals.

  • Analysis: You can practice critical thinking and assessment skills to establish goals, schedule deadlines and adjust your process to be as effective as possible in achieving your goals.

Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

Tips for being goal-oriented in the workplace

You can improve your skills in setting and achieving goals by trying some new methods for organization, motivation and time management. Use these tips to help you be more goal-oriented at work:

  1. Separate larger goals into smaller actions.
  2. Plan your time.
  3. Organize tasks by priority.
  4. Write everything down.
  5. Try time-saving strategies.
  6. Motivate yourself.
  7. Develop productive habits.
  8. Regularly track your progress.
  9. Find an accountability partner.
  10. Ask for constructive feedback.

1. Separate larger goals into smaller actions

After determining a goal and its timeline, schedule the actions you need to complete that task. You can try dividing the goal into stages and creating a sequence of actions to complete to achieve it. 

This schedule can help you manage your daily to-do list and keep you working toward the goal. Divide every task into smaller, manageable portions that you can complete in a shorter amount of time. For example, instead of having the goal of turning in a report at the end of the week, you could divide it into emailing your teammates on Monday, collecting data on Tuesday, organizing the materials into sections on Wednesday and so on. Each small step will make a larger goal easier to accomplish.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples

2. Plan your time

Being goal-oriented means prioritizing and completing only the tasks that will help get you closer to reaching a certain objective. You can use a calendar, to-do list and digital reminders to keep track of your progress along the way. Here are a few additional ways you can plan your time around your goals:

Select only a few tasks to complete each day

Having a certain number of things to focus on each day can make your tasks more manageable. Before you leave work, try to make a list of five tasks you aim to complete the next day. You can put small tasks, like sending an email, on your list to demonstrate your progress and feel the satisfaction of finishing an item on your agenda. This planning strategy can help you relax at night and begin the next day ready to work on your goals.

Plan ahead

In addition to a daily plan, you can also make weekly and monthly plans. These plans are best for long-term goals that require multiple tasks spread over a number of days. You may use these long-term goal outlines to select your daily tasks and schedule your workweek. Try using the same preparation strategy you use for daily tasks. Spend time at the end of your week reviewing the previous week’s achievements and establishing new deadlines and responsibilities. Follow this process at the end of each month, quarter or year to track your progress, and refine your strategy as necessary.

Use tools

You can improve your preparation strategy by using calendars or vision boards to show the scope of your goal. Place these tools, along with your to-do lists or digital reminder programs, in places where you are likely to see them often to remind yourself of what you want to achieve.

3. Organize tasks by priority

When you make a daily, weekly or monthly plan, try also noting which tasks you should complete first. Have a system that reminds you of what to work on in what order. You can organize by the due date, length of completion time, level of difficulty or any other way that can help you stay motivated and keep working on your goals. One good option is to prioritize your tasks first by urgency, then by complexity and time commitment—you might prefer to complete less complex, time-intensive tasks first.

4. Write everything down

For some people, writing information down on paper improves their ability to recall important items, such as tasks or larger goals. Digital calendars and lists are often convenient, but you can also try physically writing down your to-do list, thoughts and other goal-related information. You can use a notebook for work-related tasks and outlining your goals. There are also many types of physical planners that can help you stay organized and focused.

5. Try time-saving strategies

Staying productive throughout your workday is an important part of being goal-oriented. One way to do this is by making the most of your time such as completing small, simple tasks while you’re waiting for other items dependent on others to progress. It is also a good idea to take frequent, short breaks throughout your workday to maintain productivity.

6. Motivate yourself

You can increase your ability to follow through on short- and long-term plans by finding effective ways to motivate yourself. Try a blend of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to help you stay focused on your objectives. 

Intrinsic motivation is when you perform a task because it is personally satisfying. You can find intrinsic motivation by setting goals that: 

  • Make you happy
  • Improve your well-being
  • Genuinely interest you
  • Provide a challenge

Extrinsic motivation occurs when you complete a task because you want to earn a reward. This type of motivation works best when you plan to give yourself small rewards throughout the day. Some extrinsic rewards might include:

  • Having a healthy snack
  • Taking a short walk
  • Getting recognition from your employer

Pay attention to the things that motivate you throughout your day, big or small, and integrate them into your workflow. For example, if you find that completing small tasks makes you feel accomplished and excited, set aside time each morning to do a short workout, read an interesting article or complete a small, light-lift task related to your job.

Read more: How to Get Motivated at Work

7. Develop productive habits

Think about what habits will help you achieve your goals, and make a plan for developing those habits into routines. These habits could include getting to work at a certain time every day or always replying to emails before you leave the office. Self-discipline can help you to use your time more effectively and improve your productivity.

One strategy for developing a habit is to use a wall or desk calendar to track the number of days an item is completed. Place the calendar where it’s easily visible, and for every day you complete the action you are trying to make a habit of, draw a large ‘X’ or another symbol. If you don’t complete the action one day, the missing ‘X’ will draw your attention to it, and help motivate you to fill the calendar.

8. Regularly track your progress

In addition to outlining your goals and prioritizing smaller tasks needed to achieve them, a necessary part of being goal-oriented is to regularly review your progress. You can schedule time at the end of every day or a specific time each week to evaluate your long- and short-term goals as well as the steps you’re taking to achieve them.

Develop a method for reviewing how effectively you’re completing tasks and how much progress you’ve made in reaching specific goals. Consider using your to-do list like a checklist to hold yourself accountable for completing tasks. You can also create a tool that tracks how long you spend on various tasks. Try writing down what time you begin a task and the time you finish it. Make notes of possible distractions or project blockers that affected your time. 

You can use these tools to identify potentially time-consuming tasks, recognize possible obstacles to your productivity and streamline your workflow so you can improve your ability to accomplish goals.

9. Find an accountability partner

Another way to stay focused on your tasks is to get an accountability partner to help you. Consider working together with a coworker, friend or family member to track each other’s progress and help motivate one another. Make a habit of quickly checking in with your accountability partner each day so you can update them on your progress or boost your motivation to keep working toward your goals.

10. Ask for constructive feedback

You can use your professional network to improve your goal-oriented approach by discussing task-completion processes and time-management methods with colleagues. Discover what your coworkers or other industry professionals use, including the habits they cultivate and the processes they follow. Consider implementing one of their strategies to further refine your process to become a more productive, goal-oriented employee.

Try to meet with your accountability partner every month or quarter to get feedback on your long-term goals and the steps you’ve outlined to achieve them. You can even provide them feedback on their goal strategies and perhaps find a new, objective perspective on your own.

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