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I don’t think I considered myself to be especially “goal-oriented” until I started writing my goals down. And I didn’t start writing my goals down until I learned about SMART goals…so it hasn’t been too too long since I really started to focus on having firm goals and creating objectives to achieve them.
In the most simplistic way, being goal-oriented is a great characteristic for an employee because these are the people who get things done. They don’t just work by completing the tasks in front of them, they continue to strive to be better with time and meet their set milestones so they can gain continuous success.
Some careers value this characteristic in people more than others. For example, think of someone who works on a competitive sales team vs. someone who works for human resources doing background checks and the like. However, all jobs have places for employees to set goals and work toward meeting them each day.
Having professional goals that you’re working toward is critical to success. In fact, according to Dr. Karl Pribram, Professor Emeritus of Stanford University, everything that people do is governed by an ‘image of achievement', and without it, people cannot and will not succeed. This means that people who are successful start with a vision in their mind of what they want to accomplish, and keep that vision in their head while doing the work to get there.
What Does It Mean to Be a Goal-Oriented Person?
Being goal-oriented means that your everyday work is done intentionally to move you closer to achieving your vision. Goal-oriented people focus on their objectives to make progress toward what they want for the future. This is a highly-desired trait for employee candidates because it shows employers that you know how to organize, plan, pace yourself, and persevere to the end. Those who are goal-oriented use targets and milestones to keep them motivated.
Let’s Look at 11 Ways That You Can Be a Goal-Oriented Person at Work
1. Know What You Want For the Future
In order to be goal-oriented, you need goals, right? And in order to have goals, you need to have an idea of what you want your future to look like. What are you trying to improve at work and what will it take to do that?
Which work projects should be prioritized over others so you can pursue the right goals at the right time? You have to have a plan for your vision in order to align your everyday work with your long term goals. Those who are goal-oriented always have a plan to get exactly what they want.
2. Write Things Down
According to a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, people who write their goals down are 42% more likely to achieve them than those who don’t write them down.
The first thing that writing down your goals does is turn your idea into a concrete plan. Writing your goals down forces you to determine exactly what it is that you want to accomplish, and it also helps motivate you to complete the objectives that will help you reach your goal. Putting your goals down on paper helps you strategize, track your progress, and think about your next move.
If you write down your goals, you will naturally be taking the first step to becoming goal-oriented, because it will show you that you have goals in the first place. Following through with this work that you have now laid out for yourself is the trickier part.
Digital lists and apps are convenient, but also physically writing down anything that is goal-related can help it really stick. Here are some great options for notebooks that you can write down your goal-oriented tasks. These planners can also help you stay on top of your goals. You can also use these tools to recognize any tasks that are potentially too time-consuming and could be done in a different way. They can also help you notice any obstacles that are standing in your way of being productive and streamline your work so you can improve your chances of accomplishing your goals.
3. Get Yourself Organized
Part of organizing and planning is breaking your big goals down into smaller, more achievable goals. Then, you can put them in an order that makes logical sense and plan out your attack to get the tasks completed. Being able to reach milestones on a regular basis will keep you motivated to work toward bigger things.
A part of staying organized here is to make sure that you have the resources you need when you need them. So planning ahead is key to keeping yourself on track with meeting your goals.
You want to identify everything you can do to stay organized and work efficiently. For example:
By being organized, you will work more efficiently toward your goals.
4. Have Self-Awareness
Having self-awareness can help you set goals that are realistic and meaningful for you. If you want to maintain momentum, ask yourself why you’re doing a specific project or task. You may find that you’ve taken on something that isn’t really up your alley, or something you could delegate to other people.
It’s important to know your strengths and areas in life where you could use some improvement as you’re creating your goals. Don’t start off doing something that you know will be naturally tough for you and require you to immediately seek outside help. Instead, create your goals around your strengths so you start strong and have the momentum to persevere to the end. Of course you will probably need help from other people along the way (depending on your goal), but this sense of self-awareness can help you get results that will move you closer to reaching your goals.
5. Review Your Progress Often
You really don’t want to be spinning your wheels without even knowing it. Those who are not goal-oriented often fail to come close to reaching their goals because they never stop to review their progress along the way. Goal setting isn’t a one-time thing where you write down your goal and at some point, you will just achieve it.
Your list of goals should be a living document, as goal setting is a continuous process where you need to review your progress so you can notice if there are some changes to your plans that you need to make. This can only be done if you actively track your results and keep an eye on which direction they’re heading.
If you aren’t constantly reviewing your goals, they will leave your mind. Instead, review them to remind yourself of your dreams and what you need to do to make them happen. Develop a method for doing this such as using your to-do list to hold yourself accountable or timing yourself on how long you spend on each task while noting anything that distracted you from making progress. This will help you with time-management and streamlining your processes.
Another reason to regularly review your progress is to condition your goals into your subconscious mind. A lot of people do not get the results that they want because they forget their goals even existed as different things come up in life. Once this happens, it's hard to regain passion for your original goal.
You will always have some tasks that will take priority over others. The important thing is to know which objectives should take priority toward meeting your goal. You may need to take some time to review all of your options, think about the potential outcomes, and then decide what’s most important.
If you can prioritize your tasks, you will be able to clearly see what needs to get done today, and what can wait until tomorrow. Also, you can see if there is anything you can delegate to someone else to do or eliminate entirely. Being goal-oriented means prioritizing and completing only the objectives that can help you move closer to reaching your goal.
7. Plan Out Your Day
People who are goal-oriented take some time each day to plan it out so they can work efficiently. The time that you spend working is valuable, as evidenced by the progress that you’re able to see from week to week.
With good time management skills, you can improve the quality of your work, your level of self-discipline, your ability to make good decisions, and get more accomplished each day. Effectively managing your time by planning out your day can create a cycle that will improve all aspects of reaching your goals.
Having a definite number of things that you plan to work on every day can make your workload seem more manageable as well. Before leaving work, make a list of five things that you need to do the next day. Even putting small tasks on your list will help show you your progress and allow you to feel the satisfaction of completing something on your agenda. This planning strategy will let you relax after work and start the next day ready to keep working toward your goals.
8. Use Tools
There are so many apps and tricks out there to help you stay goal-oriented. These apps help you get things done on your to-do list without a chance of procrastination. And, these goal tracking apps will let you see how far you have to go. Use calendars to improve your strategy for preparing yourself to start working, and use vision boards to keep you reminded of the scope of your goal.
Put these tools (and your to-do lists or reminder apps) in places where you will see them a lot during the day to keep yourself thinking about what your goals are.
9. Consider Ways You Can Save Time
Staying productive during the day is a critical part of being goal-oriented. Make the most of your time by completing small (under 2 minute) tasks while you have little breaks in the day. But don’t overload every minute, you still need to take regular breaks from working to refresh your mind so you can stay productive and avoid burnout.
10. Develop Good Habits
Think about the small things that you do every day that either move you closer to or farther away from your goal.
For example, you have a goal to lose weight, but you always opt to have a cookie after lunch and ice cream after dinner, no matter how well you’ve eaten the rest of the day. These two small habits have a large impact on your success, so making changes to them can turn you in the right direction. Make your new habits into a routine by using self-discipline until your new habits start to stick.
One strategy for developing a habit comes from Jerry Seinfeld, who tells people to not “break the chain.” By this, he means to use a wall calendar to track your success by placing an “x” on every day that you followed through with your new, positive habit. If you almost fail to complete the task one day, that missing “x” in the chain will capture your attention and help motivate you to get it done.
11. Keep Yourself Accountable
Find an accountability partner who can help make sure that you’re staying on track.
Consider a colleague or friend to team up with to track each other’s progress on your goals and help motivate each other. Check in with your accountability partner every day to share updates on your progress and keep your motivation high while working toward your goals.
Your accountability partner will be able to give you constructive feedback to help you improve your goal-oriented processes and methods of completing your tasks. This can also help you learn what other people do or habits they have that keep them in a goal-oriented mindset. Implementing others’ strategies can help you further refine your methods of meeting your own goals.
Final Thoughts on How to Be a Goal-Oriented Person at Work
Choose to be 100% committed to your goals, and not just your tasks. By making this choice and sticking to it, you will automatically become a goal-oriented person at work. Follow the tips laid out in this article to help get you started, and before you know it, your routine will be completely goal-oriented–and people will take notice.
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.
Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.