What is the Difference Between a Goal and a Task?

One thing that comes up when I am coaching clients, is the difference between a goal and a task. So, in this post I wanted to share –

  • What is a Goal?
  • What is a Task?
  • What is the Difference Between a Goal and a Task?

Let’s get started!

 

What is a Goal?

The definitions of goals I discovered were –

Generally goals follow the SMART process – S for Specific, M for Measurable, A for Achievable, R for Relevant and T for Time-Based. An example of a goal would be doing your black belt in karate or creating a book (and aligning them to the SMART process).

 

What is a Task?

The are many definitions of tasks including –

  • “a piece of work to be done or undertaken.” ~ Google
  • “usually assigned piece of work often to be finished within a certain time” ~ Merriam-Webster.com
  • “A task is an activity or piece of work which you have to do, usually as part of a larger project.” ~ Collins Dictionary
  • “something that you have to do, often something that is difficult or unpleasant” ~ Macmillan Dictionary

A task is something that needs to be done and they are generally short and small. For example – buy groceries, call a friend for their birthday or enter your receipts into accounting software.

 

What is the Difference Between a Goal and a Task?

As you can see by the above, the key difference between a goal and a task is –

  • a goal is what you want to DO or ACHIEVE (i.e. the bigger picture), and
  • a task is the small steps you do to move towards the GOAL.

Another way I have learnt to identify the difference between a goal and a task is identifying how I feel when something is completed. When I complete a task, I generally feel relieved and when I finish a goal, I feel greater joy.

 

Questions for Reflection –

The following questions might help you get a sense of the differences between a goal and a task –

  1. How will you feel when you complete the task or goal? If it is relief, for me it is a task, if it is greater joy, it is a goal 🙂
  2. Have you tried combining goals and tasks? If so, feel free to share your insights below!

 

Over to You…

I hope this post has helped you identify the difference between a goal and a task. If you have any further questions, please comment below.

 

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