Whether personal or professional, you have dreams you want to achieve. And if you plan to achieve them, goals and objectives are the need of the hour.
And while they’re used interchangeably, goals and objectives aren’t the same.
In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between goals and objectives, how they work together, and how to measure your personal and professional goals and objectives so that you stay on the right track.
Let’s get started.
What are goals?
Goals are the outcomes you want to achieve.
They’re usually abstract and wide-ranging statements of what you want to accomplish over a certain time frame. However, since they focus on the result, they don’t tell you how to get there.
There are three types of goals:
- Time-based goals
- Outcome-oriented goals
- Process-oriented goals
We’ll describe each of these below and give you personal and professional examples.
Time-based goals are goals that you want to achieve by a certain date. They can be short-term or long-term. Use a time-based goal if you have an urgent task that needs to be completed or if something needs to be done by a specific deadline.
Here are two examples of time-based goals:
Lose weight by the end of summer.
This is a time-based goal because it tells you when you’d like to achieve your desired outcome (to lose weight). The deadline is the end of summer.
Launch the company website by the end of this month.
Just as in the previous example, the outcome (to launch the company website) should be achieved in a certain time frame (by the end of this month).
Outcome-oriented goals focus on the results you want to achieve, irrespective of the deadline. These are often bigger-picture goals you want to achieve at some point in the future.
Use outcome-oriented goals to incentivize yourself to create the future you want. You can also use them to inspire you when you hit a dip.
Here are two examples of outcome-oriented goals:
Achieve financial freedom.
This goal is outcome-oriented, as it simply expresses the intended outcome. It neither gives you a deadline nor tells you how to get there.
Become the best service provider in our category.
Similarly, this goal only describes the desired outcome without enforcing a time-frame.
Process-oriented goals are less about achieving a desired outcome and more about changing a behavior or action. Use them when you need guidance on how to do something or during a transition period.
Here are two examples of process-oriented goals:
Go to bed early every night and get 8 hours of sleep.
This is a process-oriented goal because it doesn’t describe a desired outcome. Instead, it tells you what behavior you want to change.
Prospect for 20 leads per day.
Again, this doesn’t describe a desired outcome but a desired action to take.
To learn more about how to set professional goals, check out our article, “The Ultimate Guide to Setting Professional Goals in 2023.”
What are objectives?
Objectives are the steps you need to take to reach your goals. They’re specific, measurable actions you can take in short time frames that will bring you closer to your longer-term goals. They also have to be realistic.
There are three types of objectives: strategic, tactical, and operational objectives. We’ll describe them below and include an example of each.
Strategic objectives are statements that help define and align a company’s vision.
They’re similar to goals in the sense that they’re much broader than other objectives. However, strategic objectives are measurable, come with a deadline, and help companies achieve their goals.
An example of a strategic objective is to improve customer satisfaction by 10% within the next 12 months.
Tactical objectives are short-term tasks that are specific and measurable. They’re used to support longer-term strategic objectives and goals.
An example of a tactical objective to support the strategic objective discussed above might be to reduce the time customers wait before being serviced to five minutes.
If tactical objectives support strategic objectives and larger goals, then operational objectives go one step further. They’re small, action-oriented tasks that are the easiest to measure and have the shortest time frames.
One operational objective to support the tactical objective included as an example above might be to set up a chatbot that can answer customers’ most frequently asked questions. This would ensure that customers can get answers quickly while freeing up customer service representatives to deal with more urgent issues.
What’s the difference between a goal and an objective?
Goals are like the North Star — they guide you in the direction you want to go. Objectives are a bit more like Google Maps — they give you the directions to get there.
To take our analogy even further, you know you’re getting closer to your destination (your goal) when you’ve passed a particular street (an objective you’ve just achieved) and see the statue around the corner (another objective you have yet to start).
Here are the major differences between goals and objectives, along with an example of each one.
Goals are broad in scope, whereas objectives are narrow.
For example, a company can have the goal of earning more profits. An objective for this goal could be to increase sales by 25% by the end of the quarter.
Goals have a longer time frame, whereas objectives are meant to be completed over a shorter period.
Using the same example from above, the company’s goal could be to earn more profits over a period of one year, three to five years, or even indefinitely. Their objective (to increase sales by 25% by the end of the quarter), on the other hand, has a shorter time frame (by the end of the quarter).
Goals are broad statements about what you intend to achieve. Objectives are the specific actions you take within a deadline to reach a goal.
While earning more profits is a broad statement for a company (goal), increasing sales by 25% (action) by the end of the quarter (time frame) is specific (objective).
Due to their broad scope, goals can be difficult to measure or quantify. Objectives, on the other hand, are easy to measure and quantify.
In our above example, you can technically measure the goal of earning more profits. But since it’s such a broad statement, the company would reach its goal if it earned a mere dollar more than it did previously. Most companies wouldn’t really see that as a success.
On the other hand, the objective of increasing sales by 25% by the end of the quarter is easily quantifiable.
Did the company increase its sales by 25% by the quarter’s end? If yes, then that objective has been achieved. If the company has only increased its sales by 10%, then it’s failed that objective.
How do goals and objectives work together?
It’s a bit like our North Star and Google Maps analogy from before — if you know where you want to go but don’t have the specific directions to get there, you won’t know where you’re going. Sure, you can always go north, but isn’t it easier to know the exact route?
Similarly, if you set a goal without measurable objectives, you won’t know whether you’re on the right path.
Most people and companies use the SMART method to set specific objectives to support their overarching goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. We’ll show you how this method works below.
Let’s say your goal is to improve team productivity. Here what your SMART objectives might look like to help you achieve that broad goal:
- Specific — To get 20% more tasks done this week.
- Measurable — To reduce the number of meetings we have in a week by half.
- Attainable — To sign on five new clients per month.
- Relevant — To double our clients’ traffic by the end of the quarter.
- Time-bound — To produce 1.5x more pieces of content by the end of the month.
How do you keep track of goals and objectives?
Goals and objectives are useless if we can’t keep track of them. Here are a few ways to measure your goals:
Ask close-ended (yes/no) questions: This is the easiest way to measure your goals, especially outcome-oriented goals. Did you meet the goal? If yes, then congratulations! If not, then it’s back to the drawing board.
Use a points system: If your goal is complicated and requires many steps, use a points system to measure it. What percentage of the goal did you achieve?
Design a rubric: Some goals are more difficult to keep track of than others because there aren’t many numbers to measure. In this case, design a rubric to gauge how much of the goal you’ve accomplished based on various criteria.
Here are some ways to measure your objectives:
Measure attainment: If your objectives are quantitative (i.e., they can be measured with numbers), you can determine how close you’ve come to meeting them by comparing them to your target figure. This could be anything from a dollar amount to a percentage or quantity.
Use surveys to measure qualitative data: Like goals, some objectives can’t be measured by numbers. For qualitative objectives, using surveys can be a good way to keep track of how you’re doing.
Use performance reviews to measure past and present performance: This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but performance reviews are helpful for comparing a team or employee’s past and present performance.
All that’s well and good, but there’s an even easier way to keep track of your goals and objectives. Enter Motion!
Motion automatically prioritizes your tasks for you so you can fulfill your objectives faster. It can also align your entire team so you always know the most important tasks to work on. And all of this is automatic, so you don’t have to waste time manually doing it yourself.
And speaking of time, Motion warns you when you don’t have enough time to work on something — potentially saving you from missing deadlines. And when things change, it automatically reshuffles everything on your schedule. How helpful is that?
Motion takes care of things in the background so you can focus on achieving your goals and objectives in record time.
What are the benefits to setting work goals and objectives?
There are many benefits to setting work goals and objectives. After all, what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done. And it’s not just hard metrics, either.
For example, teams work better when they’re aligned on the goals they need to achieve. Aligned teams also collaborate better and are more engaged, all of which make for a productive workplace.
Misalignment, on the other hand, can lead to damaged financial performance, especially between marketing and sales teams.
According to a survey by LinkedIn, 90% of sales and marketing professionals say they’re disconnected across strategy, process, content, and culture — a disconnect that could be avoided by setting SMART goals and objectives and communicating them clearly.
Still not convinced? Here are more reasons goal-setting (with objectives) is beneficial:
- It gives you a clearer direction and vision
- It helps you set priorities
- It leads to less confusion about what needs to be done
- It leads to more accountability
- It makes progress clearer
- It leads to better connection and communication
- It increases motivation
Achieve better outcomes with Motion
There are many differences between goals and objectives. However, they’re both necessary for you and your business to succeed.
A goal is a broad statement of an outcome you want to achieve, while an objective is a step that takes you closer to that goal. And while it’s useful to set SMART goals and objectives, it’s also important to track your progress.
Motion helps you reach your goals faster by making it easier to keep track of your objectives. Your tasks are automatically prioritized without you having to lift a finger, and when things change, we’ll reshuffle everything for you. This means no more wasting time on low-value tasks that don’t align with your goals or objectives!
Try Motion for free today.