Goals and objectives are two words often used interchangeably. As a matter of fact, a thesaurus considers goals and objectives as synonyms, yet dicitionaries seen them as separate and not interchangeable. This article takes a look at goals vs. objectives to answer the question with certainty of whether there is a difference between the two.
What Are Goals and Objectives?
A goal is an ambition. It is something you want to achieve, usually within a certain timeline. On the other hand, objectives are the steps you intend to take to achieve your goal.
To put it into another form, your goal is actually your envisioned destination while your objectives are your path towards the destination. For a simple illustration: if your goal is to purchase a new laptop, your objectives will be similar to the following:
- Create a budget
- Conduct research on laptops on the market
- Start saving
- Check out stores with the best offer for your preferred laptop
- Purchase the laptop
Differences Between Goals and Objectives
To be able to discern the difference between both terms, the following are the important elements to consider:
- A goal is WHAT you intend to achieve while objectives are HOW you intend to achieve it.
- A goal isn’t always quantifiable but objectives are.
- A goal without its objectives is a mere dream or fantasy.
- Objectives without a goal is like floating on a sea. You’ll be at the whims and caprices of the prevailing tides.
- Most of the time, goals emerge before you come up with their objectives.
Why Are Goals and Objectives Often Confused?
Both goals and objectives are aspirations. You can say that your goal is the main objective of your objectives. It also happens that sometimes, what you think is your goal could turn out to be another objective.
Using the previous illustration above, what if someone asks you why you have chosen to purchase a laptop. It may then occur to you that you actually want to purchase a new laptop to foster full remote working. From this, your goal of purchasing a new laptop is now more or less an objective. That’s why goals and objectives will always be used interchangeably.
Which Is More Important Between Goals and Objectives?
In goals vs. objectives, which is more important? The simple answer is neither. Both are very important, but neither is more important than the other, as neither can function without the other.
Your goals give your life a sense of direction. Your aspirations shape your life. That’s why when you achieve a goal, you create another one. You’re giving yourself purpose. Also, not being able to achieve your goal does not make you a failure. This is because the aspiration must have redefined your habits, lifestyle, and your whole life.
Objectives are important too. They are the bridges between you and your goals. Objectives make your dream realizable. Using the first illustration above, you can’t possibly purchase a laptop if you don’t know the steps to take. The steps are the objectives.
Here’s another point: objectives can be used to measure your progress. If you have to take nine steps to achieve a particular goal, when you get to the sixth step, you will have achieved two-thirds of your goal. Therefore, both goals and objectives are equally important. Neither can stand without the other.
When examining goals vs. objectives, your objectives are the path to achieving your goals. With it being important to always keep track of your goals, perhaps you can also keep track of your objectives as you tick them off your to-do list. This would be a great way to hold yourself accountable and make sure you accomplish everything you set out to.