Goals vs. Objectives

Goals and objectives help someone accomplish what they set out to do by clarifying the purpose of activities and steps necessary to achieve.  Goals and objectives help management and employees coordinate effort to drive toward a shared purpose.  Goals and objectives align many moving parts in a community to combine resources and obtain whatever result they seek.  Goals and objectives are often used interchangeably and sometimes confused as the same thing -they are not.    

Figuratively, goals and objectives fit together like a stairway and a second floor. Goals are the second floor, a destination.  Objectives are the staircase, steps necessary to get to the destination.

Goal timelines are longer term in nature and less structured than objectives. Goals may not be defined because they forge into new territory which may be an unknown place.  Goals are a desired result.  Sample: “I want to be more flexible. I want to understand more about history. I want to perform better. We should own our growth strategy.”

Objectives are clearly outlined with defined timelines that may be short term or mid-term.  Results are measured and may be answered with a yes or a no.  Objectives describe steps necessary to achieve a result.  Sample: “I want to increase sales by 10%. I want to lower my debt by $250 per month. Over the next six months we will invest into projects with a minimum ROI of 25%.”