Unclear about the difference between goals and objectives? Looking for examples of goals and objectives?
Whether you’re busy outlining your goals for work, school, life, finances, or relationships, navigating the different terms you’ve seen online can sometimes feel like a minefield. The goal-setting process is an important and exciting one once you can wrap your head around the terminology and know just what it takes to set a goal that, with a little elbow grease, you can achieve.
Right now, you probably have questions like these swimming through your head, “Should I be setting goals? Or are these objectives? Wait, what’s this I keep seeing about making them S.M.A.R.T.? When do I add that to the mix?”
Don’t worry, I got you, boo.
Deciding to set meaningful goals is a big first step that you’ve already taken. From here, I’ll take the reigns and walk you through exactly what you need to know about the difference between goals and objectives, how we can align them together when to add in a strategy, and of course, how to make them S.M.A.R.T.
What Is a Goal?
Setting a goal is your starting point. Without defining your goal, you can’t have an objective.
A goal is defined as a desired outcome. It’s an achievable result that is usually pretty broad and is typically long-term, although short-term goals are possible as well.
Examples of Goals
A goal at its core is something that isn’t well defined and doesn’t provide you with a roadmap on how to achieve it. It only states the final result.
Goals for Work
At work, you might be in charge of setting your own goals or these could be goals passed down to you from your boss or upper management. It’s not unlikely that you’ll face quarterly and annual goals in the workplace, whether you’re an employee or entrepreneur.
Common goals for the workplace might include:
- Increase revenue in Q2.
- Grow our company’s social media presence.
- Reduce our business expenses in the next 3 years.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: SMART Goal Examples for Work
Goals for School
Regardless of what age student you are, goal setting is an important part of any student’s journey. It’s normal for parents to help their children set goals for school or for you to take over your own goals if you’re in high school, university, or post-graduate studies.
Common goals for school might include:
- Improve my grades this term.
- Join a new extracurricular activity.
- Maintain my scholarship.
Goals for Life
Goals surrounding your lifestyle are typically ones that most people associate with New Years’ Resolutions. The issue most people face though is that come February, they’ve fallen off the wagon and have abandoned their goals. Whether it’s January 1 or not, setting a personal goal to improve your lifestyle should be just as achievable as goals in any other aspect of your life.
Common goals for life might include:
- Declutter my home.
- Lose 10 pounds.
- Feed my family a healthier diet.
Goals for Finances
Financial goals are typically the most stressful ones to set and also to achieve. It’s a common practice for people to set goals that are too lofty or that are set with unrealistic expectations. To ensure we don’t run into this same issue, father down we’ll add objectives to one of these goals to make it a realistic one anyone can accomplish.
Common goals for finances might include:
- Save enough for a down payment on a car.
- Build an emergency savings fund for just-in-case situations.
- Get out of debt on my credit card.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: SMART Financial Goals Examples
Goals for Relationships
Relationship goals aren’t just for romantic relationships. They’re important for relationships with your parents, friends, children, and of course, your partner. Typically, a relationship goal works best when it involves the other person so they’re best set together.
Common goals for relationships might include:
- Set stronger boundaries with my parents.
- Start a hobby that is my own to prioritize alone time.
- Give my partner and me more uninterrupted time together time.
As you can see, each of these goals has a clear outcome. They tell you where you’d like to be but they’re missing an important piece of the puzzle. They don’t tell you how to achieve them nor do they all include specific parameters on how to measure them.
This is where objectives come into play.
What is an Objective?
Objectives are the measurable steps we add to our goals to make them S.M.A.R.T. Without objectives, your goals will remain broad and without clear guidance on how to achieve them.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are defined as:
These 5 metrics we add to goals will serve as our objectives. I want to note that while an objective is the measurable steps to achieve a goal, the strategy is how we can accomplish each objective. For the sake of this article, our examples of objectives will include a strategy to provide you with well-rounded S.M.A.R.T. goals you can run with.
While it’s possible that you can still reach your goal without adding in objectives and a strategy to do so, your chance of success is drastically lower. That’s because objectives break up our goals into more manageable chunks and serve as the necessary steps we need to make when reaching our goal destination.
You can think of the strategy as a defined roadmap, showing you exactly how you’ll get from point A to point B and where we need to stop along the way.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How To Set Business Goals
Examples of Objectives
Now that we understand that objectives are the measurable layers we add to our goals to make them come to life, let’s take a few of our goal examples from above and add in objectives and a strategy.
Goal #1: Grow our Social Media Presence
For work goals, it’s possible that your boss will provide everyone from the organization with the same set of goals, then each division of the company will set clear objectives on how they can contribute to accomplishing the overall goal.
If you provide your marketing team will the goal to “grow our social media presence,” they’ll be left without much direction on how to actually accomplish it. We can make this goal S.M.A.R.T. by adding specific objectives that will help us not only understand the goal better by defining the term “grow,” but will also give us a specific strategy on how to achieve what we want.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: Create a Social Media Strategy
For example, our objectives could be:
- Increase our overall impressions on Instagram by 30% and engagement by 10% by the end of Q2.
- This result will come from publishing Instagram Stories 4x a week, in addition to maintaining the publishing plan we already have in motion. These stories will include a variety of audience engagement tools, like polls, quizzes, links to read more, etc.
- We’ll also launch 3 more highly-targeted ads to new demographics to reach a wider audience.
Goal #2: Maintain My Scholarship
This is a common goal for many college students that can result in a lot of anxiety for many struggling to keep up with the added workload and extra social pressures. By adding in objectives to make this goal S.M.A.R.T, you’ll get more guidance as to exactly what you need to do to stay on track and feel more confident that you can smash this goal.
For example, our objectives could be:
- To maintain my scholarship, I must maintain a 3.2 GPA each term, which means I need to get Bs or better in all of my courses.
- I will complete all assignments at least 24 hours upon submission, attend 85% of all of my classes, and will ask for extra credit assignments, if needed.
- I will buy a calendar and write in all important deadlines and due dates to keep me on track with my workload so nothing can sneak up at the last minute.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: Examples of Academic Goals for College Students
Goal #3: Lose 10 Pounds
So often is this a lifestyle goal that many people put on themselves but have a hard time achieving. That’s because, without any guidance on how to lose weight, you’re left without any sort of steps to reach your goal in a healthy, maintainable way. We can change that by adding clear objectives to our goal.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: SMART Health Goals Examples
For example, our objectives could be:
- I will lose 10 pounds over the course of 6 months to avoid crash dieting and unhealthy eating habits.
- I will exercise 3 days a week and will invest in a workout program that combines cardio and strength training to serve as a guide for my exercises.
- I will prioritize eating healthy, filling meals and will avoid late-night snacking.
Goal #4: Create an “Emergency Savings Fund” for Just-In-Case Situations
Finance goals are important ones for every adult, regardless of the number in their bank account. While the exact numbers you’d insert into your savings goals will depend based on your job, cost of lifestyle, and spending habits, financial goals are something everyone I know stresses about achieving. To make these goals attainable, we need to add well-defined objectives.
For example, our objectives to meet this goal could be:
- I will define how much I need in my emergency savings fund by calculating how much money I would need to support my current lifestyle for 6 months.
- Once I’ve calculated this number, I’ll divide it by 12 to know how much money I need to transfer to my emergency savings fund to hit my goal by the end of the year.
- I will continue to recalculate this number each year to ensure the number in my emergency savings fund reflects 6 months of my current cost of living.
Goal #5: Give my Partner and Me More Uninterrupted Time Together Time
Whether you find yourself in a new relationship or are working to improve your bond in your current one, setting goals is a fun and important part of any healthy relationship. A common goal for relationships is to prioritize together time. In our age of social media, Netflix, and distractions, it’s easy to feel you and your partner aren’t getting quality time together. To reach our goal of spending more uninterrupted time together, we need to add detailed objectives.
For example, our objectives could be:
- We will set up a date night routine where each week we rotate who plans our date.
- On our dates, we’ll have a “no phone” policy to keep away distractions and allow for uninterrupted time together.
- Together we’ll establish which nights each week are date nights and pencil them into our calendars so they can’t be forgotten.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: SMART Marriage Goals
Differences Between Goals and Objectives
Now that you’ve taken a look at the definitions and examples of goals and objectives, let’s go a bit deeper into the difference between the two terms and highlight the main criterion dividing goals vs. objectives.
- For a goal, the words used are typically broad and generic. Goals are usually based on ideas.
- For an objective, the words should be well-defined and specific. Objectives should be based on facts.
- A goal should be defined first. Setting a goal is your starting point.
- An objective should be defined based on the goal. Objectives will come after you already have a clear goal in mind.
- A goal will be harder to measure. Since a goal is typically written in broad terms without many details, it will be difficult to measure the success of a goal without adding in objectives.
- An objective will be easy to measure. Objectives are written to have a clear pass/fail basis. Objectives should be measured by results, time, or both.
Length of Time
- A goal, in general, is something to be achieved long-term.
- An objective should be short-term or medium-term as a way to break up your long-term goal into actionable steps.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to Plan an Awesome Goal Setting Retreat
- A goal in its base form is generic.
- An objective is highly specific.
Set Goals and Objectives
More often than not, you’ll see the terms “goal” and “objective” used interchangeably, although now you know that shouldn’t be the case.
Goals and objectives work hand-in-hand to create S.M.A.R.T. goals for you that are well-defined, easily measurable, and achievable in a specific time frame.
Without goals, objectives serve no greater purpose, while without objectives, goals are left generic and without enough details and steps on how you can reach them.
Get Your SMART Goals Worksheet
Ready to set SMART goals and objectives? Sign up below to get your FREE SMART Goals Worksheet, form-fillable, and printable, and includes more examples to help you.
Now, you understand the difference between goals and objectives. You’re ready to take back the reigns and set kick-ass S.M.A.R.T goals for your life, school, work, finances, and relationships that you’ll be more confident in attaining.
What's the difference between goals and objectives? Click here for the difference illustrated with examples for work, school, and your life. #GoalSetting #Goals #StrategicPlanning
Do you know the difference between goals and objectives?
Last Updated on May 22, 2022
Get your SMART Goals Worksheet
+ weekly tips to help you slay your goals.