The Difference between “Goal” and “Objective”

There are many times in our day to day life when we find ourselves wanting to accomplish all kinds of different things. Some might be small and others might be very important for our future. Anyway, when having something we want to fulfill, it is also quite important to be able to set both goals and objectives.

In our day and time, many people use both terms to describe something similar. Really, these two even though strongly connected, do not represent exactly the same thing. Here is the difference between them and why you will realize how you need both in order to succeed.

 The Definition of “Goals” and “Objectives”

Goals and Objectives are usually used interchangeably and many people don’t seem to understand that there is a difference between the two. They might be strongly connected, but they do have a lot of differences.

Goals are some long-term aims that you wish to accomplish. They do not always have a particular plan behind them in order to be accomplished and they are usually based on the dreams and hopes of a person. When describing the goals of a company for example, these might be determining what the company wishes to accomplish in the future.

Objectives are specific milestones which describe exactly what a person wishes to achieve in the near future or a particular amount of time. These can only be achieved by following a particular number of steps and they are precise and measurable and can assist the person in its journey towards achieving a goal.

How do “Goals” and “Objectives” Work?

Now that we’ve seen the basic about what goals and objectives are, it is important to know the rest of the differences between the two similar terms.

While both represent achievements that the person wants to fulfill, each have a different life span and purpose. Objectives usually represent the step a person needs to take in order to reach a particular goal. They are not the last step of the achievement by rather they are the means to get there.

For example, if you wish to work in the translation business but don’t have any experience or know any people in the field, it might help you if you go through translation reviews online in order to get some ideas and set your objectives, your individual steps towards achieving that goal, correctly.

On the other hand, a goal is the end result of this process. The person might have a vision but the goal itself doesn’t necessarily talk about the way to get there. This is the work of the objectives, which take into consideration all the ideas and dreams of the person setting the goal and help break it down into smaller steps which are a lot more manageable to achieve.

How difficult are they to achieve?

While neither of them is easy to achieve if the person is not dedicated to achieving their aims, in general objectives are easier to achieve than goals. This happens for a couple of reasons as objectives are usually medium or short term aims. What this means is that they are individual steps, each one adding a particular achievement towards managing to reach the final goal.

Goals are more difficult to reach because they consist of the entire journey from beginning to end. While objectives are easier to achieve independently, when combined all together they can be quite challenging and definitely require a lot more time to complete.

Not only that, but also objectives are concrete ideas and need to be achieved exactly as planned in order for them to be successful. A goal on the other hand is rather abstract, and there are many times where unexpected happenings and situations can change the course of a goal. That by itself can make objectives a lot harder to achieve.

All in all, no matter how difficult you find a goal to be, you need to keep in mind that objectives are what will help you measure your progress towards it. The more you focus on how difficult the end result is, the more you will struggle with the individual objectives. These are much easier to measure and you should always focus on how far you’ve come instead of how far you still have to go.

Examples of “Goals” and “Objectives”

Ever since we are children, all of us set all kinds of goals about our future and our lives. Some of us want to be teachers and others want to be scientists. Most of them end up changing, but in every case, we keep working for our entire lives towards achieving them. This can show you exactly why goals are considered long term.

Think of a goal you used to have as a child. Let’s say that you always dreamt of becoming a teacher, a dream that many children share. In order to achieve that goal, you would have to go through many years of school and university in order to gather all the needed knowledge in order to be able to teach others.

Break each step down and you’ll have your different objectives. First objective would be to finish elementary, then high school and then college. In the meanwhile, you might have wanted to babysit children in order to get to know how to behave better and you might have tried attending conferences and similar venues in order to keep learning about things such as child psychology, behavior and effective ways of teaching.

All these smaller “goals” consist of your objectives. No matter how small or easy they might appear to be, they are always a very important part of achieving your goals. They help you stick to your goal and see it come alive.

The more objectives you manage to successfully complete, the more motivated you will be to go on and keep following your dreams. Your end goal will seem to be closer and closer and you will be able to go through all these milestones and successfully make your goals come to life.

In Summation

While goals and objectives are quite different, objectives are the main thing that will help you achieve your goals. Not only is it important to set goals in your life and to keep dreaming of the things you wish to achieve, but it is also important to take individual and targeted steps towards achieving them.

Goals are what make a person’s life a lot more interesting and meaningful and they can help you become a better version of yourself as you struggle to achieve them. Keeping track of your progress through all the objectives you have achieved is an important thing when aiming towards completing your goals successfully and these objectives can be your means to truly making your dreams come true.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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