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Is It Better To Be Goal Oriented Or Process Oriented?

Goals are important to achieve the heights of one’s capabilities. But is it better to be goal oriented or process oriented? Let’s find out.

A lady wondering is it better to be goal-oriented or process-oriented
Photo by Elijah O’Donnell from Pexels

There was a debate two years back when I was in college, pursuing my bachelor’s degree. It was about the differences between goal-oriented and process-oriented approaches towards life.

Now, there were a lot of arguments in the favour of a goal-oriented approach as it centers itself primarily on achieving the goal we desire without focusing on the process towards achieving it.

This is not to say that the goal-oriented approach is better, but the arguments were so convincing that they made me think about which of the two is actually better.

For instance, we require both of them, depending on our surroundings. However, we have certain conditions over how both the methods turn out in reality.

So, here I am after two years discussing which of the two is better. The deeper we go into it, the easier it will be to understand the applications of these methods.

The goal-oriented approach is similar to utilitarianism, where we focus on achieving the desired results, while the process-oriented approach is similar to deontology.

But, “What is the difference between goal-oriented and process-oriented approaches?”

and, “Is it better to be goal-oriented or process-oriented?”

Let’s find out.

How the goal-oriented approach differs from the process-oriented approach?

Yes, it is important to know the difference between a goal-oriented and a process-oriented approach. Most people confuse them with each other.

For instance, when a person (who doesn’t have to be a psychic) seeks a vision or foresight, he emphasizes the outcomes that may or may not exist. However, he still focuses on making it a reality by deeming his vision as a goal.

A process-oriented man working on a a laptop
Photo by Djordje Petrovic from Pexels

This is a goal-oriented approach. It doesn’t consider the nature of the process to reach it, but only the goal.

On the other hand, when the same person seeks the significance of principles in the process to reach a goal, then he is process-oriented. He has a structured way to approach situations with a fixed process.

Now, there are 3 differences between their goal and process-oriented approach.

1. The goal-oriented approach is more direct and straightforward than the process-oriented approach:

The truth about the goal-oriented approach is that it is more direct compared to its counterpart. In fact, most people rely on the former as it doesn’t concern itself with the process to reach it.

For instance, many famous dictators of the 20th century, such as Mussolini, and Hitler were goal-oriented than process-oriented. They were direct with their actions and did not hesitate in crossing their ethics or principles.

Hence, the goal-oriented approach is more direct and straightforward.

2. Rational analysts consider the goal-oriented approach, while emotional idealists consider the process-oriented approach:

You must be thinking, “What does being rational has to do with it?”

Turns out, it does influence people in the long run.

People throughout history have been using both approaches to fulfill and succeed in their lives. However, one common observation that was similar to all these historical figures is that the ones who utilized the goal-oriented thought process were more analytical and rational.

On the other hand, the ones who utilized the process-oriented approach were more emotional and idealistic at heart. It proves that not everyone can use both of them effectively. A person may lean towards one more than the other.

Hence, rational analysts are goal-oriented, while emotional idealists are process-oriented.

3. Goal-oriented approach depends on efficiency, but the process-oriented approach depends on consistency:

Now, this one is obvious, right.

The process-oriented approach leans towards consistency and predictability. You may not be aware of your goal as much as you are aware of the process required to reach it.

The goal-oriented approach leans towards efficiency and considers the easiest way possible to reach the goal. It is a little bit reckless but more likely to sacrifice everything to make the hypothetical goal a reality.

Hence, the goal-oriented approach is efficient, and the process-oriented approach is consistent.

Now, that we have discussed the differences between a goal and a process-oriented approach, it is time to find out which one is better than the two.

“Is it better to be goal-oriented or process-oriented?”

Let’s find out.

Is it better to be goal-oriented or process-oriented?

Now, here comes the most important question.

We are well aware of the advantages and limitations of each of the approaches.

However, it is a matter of choice about which one is better in the long run. Still, according to me (as well as most people), the process-oriented approach takes the lead here. 

A target board depicting goal-oriented approach

But, “Why is a process-oriented approach better in the long run?”

Well, here are 6 must-know reasons why a process-oriented approach is better than a goal-oriented one.

Process-oriented approach:

1. Allows you to work freely without stressing out:

Stress is a deal-breaker. It leads to many problems such as frustration, depression, and emotional hijacking.

There are so many things we do not perform out of sheer stress and tension. It takes a lot of time to make things right with the goal-oriented approach. Besides, it is also more dogmatic and seldom considers the comfort of the process, thereby making it difficult to not get frustrated.

Process-oriented is better at taking it slow and enjoying the process as it goes. Hence, it reduces the stress and tension a great deal.

2. Allows creativity and spontaneity in your task:

But, “Why do we need to address creativity and spontaneity in it?”

Because it is a vital part of the task that we can’t miss under any circumstances. Creativity is an important thing in the completion of a task. It also makes us more novel-seeking and explorative in our approach.

However, a goal-oriented person does not look for creativity. He tries to cut corners to reach the goal without noticing anything that slows it down.

Hence, a process-oriented approach gives space to creativity and spontaneity.

3. Gives space to structure and organization:

The process-oriented approach might not be as effective as the goal-oriented approach. But, it still considers the organization and structure that helps in planning and strategizing.

It might seem that the latter is better at planning. However, the truth is that a goal orientated person doesn’t concern himself with a smooth and consistent process. Instead, he tries to reach the goal in any way possible. 

For instance, Hitler never cared about the organization. He tormented anyone who tried to oppose him. Hence, it is better to be process-oriented.

4. Is more ethical in the long run:

There have been many debates and arguments in history regarding the significance of ethics and moral code. However, we can’t deny the benefits of having a strict moral code to live by, even in our toughest times.

A goal-oriented person might not care about work ethics or a proper work environment. He would just do anything beyond it as he believes it is a barrier to reaching his goal. It is not to say that he won’t be ethical, but he will still think of them as a hindrance to reaching his destination.

On the other hand, a process-oriented person will be more ethical and is more likely to promote work ethics in the workplace.

5. Helps build strong interpersonal relationships:

Interpersonal relationships are vital to any task that needs good teamwork and support. It is beneficial to establish good relations with people if we want to work as a team.

However, the goal-oriented person might only form relationships when he has to attain his goal. Otherwise, he wouldn’t even concern himself with establishing good relations.

A process-oriented person, on the other hand, is more likely to build strong interpersonal relations out of concern and empathy. Moreover, he wouldn’t exploit people for his own benefit.

Hence, a process-oriented approach helps us build strong interpersonal relationships.

6. Provides space for learning and improvement:

Change is the inevitable law of nature, and we can’t live without it. Continuous improvement is necessary to make things easier for us to tackle and apply our experiences in the favor of our performance.

But, a process-oriented person takes it to another level, where he emphasizes learning and gaining experiences without cutting out anything in between. He is more adaptive, improvising, and open-minded to learn new things that can make his process-oriented approach even better.

Hence, it provides space for leaving and improvement.

Final Words:

To sum up, both the process-oriented and goal-oriented approaches have their own benefits and limitations. Also, the difference is clear between the applications of each of them in real life.

However, the former takes an edge around here with its much diverse and adaptive approach that isn’t possible with the latter.

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