I’m sure you’ve heard many people talking about goals and objectives as if they’re the same thing. You may even believe this yourself.
However, if you want to unleash your productivity and take your accomplishments to a whole new level, then you’ll need to understand the clear differences between goals and objectives.
When you think of them as one thing, you’ll find yourself struggling to achieve your aims and dreams. But once you understand their differences — and their synergies — you’ll put yourself firmly on the road to success.
Different but Complementary
While apples and blackberries are both part of the fruit family, they are clearly very different fruits. Both fruits on their own taste great. However, if you’ve ever tasted apple and blackberry pie, you’ll know just how delicious they taste together!
This is a simple example of how different things can be combined to make something new — and something better.
If you’re not a foodie, then you might prefer to think about music…
Rarely does a solo voice or instrument sound amazing on its own. It’s when it’s combined with other voices and instruments that the magic really begins. Suddenly, there are harmonies, counterparts, and different textures and dynamics to the sound. Orchestral music is a great example of this, with its multi-layered symphonic sound captivating the minds of listeners.
What Are Objectives?
While I’ll go into this in more detail, the one-sentence answer to this question is:
Objectives are the small steps that you’ll need to take to reach your goals.
Let me explain.
If you wanted to learn a new language, you wouldn’t expect to go from knowing just a few words to suddenly being fluent. In between these two extremes would be a ton of learning and practice. You’d also have to build your confidence in the new language and have someone to practice your new linguistic skills with.
To give your aspiration the best chance of succeeding, it would be wise to break your learning into bite-sized chunks. In other words, you should have a number of objectives that you can complete on your way to becoming fluent in the new language.
Something along these lines:
Objective #1: Find a language app to help you learn the basics.
Objective #2: Complete the available courses on the app.
Objective #3: Find a native language speaker to help you develop your grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.
Objective #4: Study with them one-to-one until you feel you’ve reached a decent level.
Objective #5: Book a trip to a country that speaks the language you have learned — and then use the trip to test out your skills and to increase your knowledge of the language.
Now, admittedly, this is a very simple list. In reality, you would probably add extra steps (objectives) to make your pathway to fluency as clear and straightforward as possible. But the above list gives you an idea of what objectives are and how to use them to your advantage.
Let’s turn our attention now to goals.
What Are Goals?
Again, let me first give you a one-sentence answer:
Goals are long-term aspirations such as wanting a new house, job, or relationship.
It’s goals that will drive you forward in life((Columbia University: Clarifying Achievement Goals and Their Impact)). They’ll give you the energy, passion, and enthusiasm to keep going — and to keep succeeding.
People who lack goals lack a reason for living. Because of this, their lives are often stale and unadventurous. They’re also likely to find that staying safe means they start falling behind. After all, if other people are learning new skills and pushing themselves forward, they’ll inevitably get ahead of the aimless.
American motivational speaker Robert H. Schuller had this to say on the topic:
“Goals are not only absolutely necessary to motivate us. They are essential to really keep us alive.”
Think about that for a moment.
Having clear, written goals will concentrate your energy and give you the drive you need to accomplish them.
Here are a few examples of big goals that can enthuse and propel you into ongoing action:
Writing your first book
Learning to sail a yacht
Traveling the world
Buying a holiday home
Earning enough money to retire early
If you’re having trouble choosing goals, then I’d highly recommend that you read our article How to Use the Wheel of Life to Live the Life You Want. This article will show you how to pick goals that will balance and enhance your life.
Objectives + Goals = Success
Objectives are your friend. That’s because they’ll help you move steadily along the road that leads to the successful completion of your goals.
Think of it this way:
A big goal can often be intimidating or even seem way out of reach. However, with the clever use of objectives to break down the big goal into smaller and easily manageable pieces, suddenly the goal can become attainable and realistic.
From the very early beginnings of Lifehack to the present day, I’ve used the power of objectives + goals to help the business become the huge success it is today.
But this formula is not just for business. You can use it to boost ALL areas of your life.
Take your health and fitness, for example. You could set yourself a goal to run a marathon in the next 12 months. With this goal clear in your mind, it would be easy to set relevant objectives to help you achieve it. In this case, they would be things like: learning how to stretch and warm up, building your fitness, and finding a marathon event to join.
A Final Word
I hope this article acts as a “success catalyst” for you.
Once you understand the simple formula — and start implementing it in your life — you’ll quickly see positive and dramatic results. (In fact, you’ll probably look back and wonder why this formula was never taught at your school.)
Of course, success requires time and effort, but by breaking your big goals down into smaller objectives, you’ll make your life both easier and more productive.
More on the Difference Between Goals and Objectives
Goals vs Objectives: What Are Their Differences?
What Are Smart Objectives? (And How to Use Them)
What are Goals? Achieve More By Changing Your Perspectives