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Last Updated on September 5, 2021

Why It’s Vital to Understand the Difference Between Goals and Objectives

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Why It’s Vital to Understand the Difference Between Goals and Objectives

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.

Treating goals and objectives as objectives can lead to confusion and even discourage you to make steps to improve yourself or achieve your dreams. Understanding the difference between goals and objectives and how they work together gives you clearer picture of where you want to be in life and how to get there.

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.

Goals vs Objectives: 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…

A solo voice or instrument can sound amazing on its own. But 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. It becomes whole and more comprehensive. It isn’t simply one beautiful sound, it is a cacophony of melodies and notes that can entice feelings and even propel or inspire people into action. Orchestral music is a great example of this, with its multi-layered symphonic sound captivating the minds of listeners.

Goals and objectives can exist without the other. You can have goals without objectives, but then they’re just dreams. You can have objectives without goals, but then they’re just mindless actions. If your goals and objectives don’t work together, they’re just dreams and actions that don’t serve any purpose.

In order to have synergy between goals and objectives, we have to first understand what these terms mean.

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What Are Goals?

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[1]. 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. It gives your day-to-day life purpose. You’re not simply existing, you’re working towards something.

Here are a few examples of big goals that can enthuse and propel you into ongoing action:

Writing your first book

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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.

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 your goals is 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.

Objectives are your guide map that will take you from where you are to your eventual goal.

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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.

When setting your objectives, a great strategy is following the SMART method.

Get S.M.A.R.T. With Your Objectives

S.M.A.R.T. is the acronym that defines the five qualities you want in your objectives to achieve success. These are: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Let’s get into it!

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  • Specific: While goals can be vague and ambiguous, objectives have to be specific, and as detailed as possible. In the above example, if your goal is to learn a new language, one of your objectives may be to find an avenue to learn them. Will you be using an app, going to the library or attending a traditional school? Are you willing to pay for the platform? Get into the details and list it down.
  • Measurable: Your objective should be measurable. You should be able to quantify your progress, giving you an idea if you’re getting closer to achieving your objective and thereby reaching your goals. If you’ve decided on using an app to learn a new language, how much time do you need to devote to learn the basics? How do you know you’re learning? Are there tests that you could take to measure your progress?
  • Achievable: The definition of achievable is different for everyone. You have to review your environment, conditions and resources when you’re setting objectives for your goal. If money is limited, or your work takes up most of your time, going to a traditional school might not be for you. A language app, which is affordable and can be used anytime, anywhere, might be a better option.
  • Realistic: Objectives (and even goals) still have to be grounded in reality. You have to make sure that your objective is something that is actually realistic for your situation. If your objective is to find a language coach, that is very realistic. You can easily find freelance language coaches online who have reasonable rates. If your objective is for Penelope Cruz to be your Spanish language coach, maybe consider a new objective.
  • Timely: Objectives have to be time-bound, otherwise you run the risk of procrastinating and eventually losing the motivation to achieve your objectives and letting go of your goals. Give yourself a set timeline for achieving objectives, with an actual start date and end date. But also make sure that your timeline is realistic and attainable. You can’t expect to learn a new language in two days.

Following the SMART method for setting your objectives gives you the motivation and direction to work on them in order to achieve your goals. It also allows you to track your progress and boost your confidence.

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. The goals in itself may seem daunting and it can be discouraging. But it would be easy to set relevant objectives to help you achieve this goal. When you break it down into objective chunks, you’ll see that you can take smaller steps day-to-day to finally reach your end goal. In this case, your objectives would be things like: learning how to stretch and warm up, building your fitness, running 10-15 minutes a day and eventually increasing that time when you build up your strength, and finding a marathon event to join.

When you look at it this way, it won’t look like an insurmountable hurdle that you can’t possibly overcome. It would give you the courage and motivation to work for the success of your goals.

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.)

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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

Featured photo credit: Smart via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Columbia University: Clarifying Achievement Goals and Their Impact

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on September 27, 2021

8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

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8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

The importance of effective goal setting cannot be overstated on our personal journeys towards success. This is why there are countless articles out there on how to set your own SMART goals and even why it’s a skill commonly taught to a small degree in classrooms.

Learning the importance of goal setting and the benefits of sticking to those goals can be the defining factor determining whether we truly embrace the importance of goal setting. The more willing we are to embrace this method, the more likely we become to reach our personal definitions of personal and professional success.

Thus, this article is going to walk you through some of the benefits you’ll see from learning to set goals for yourself and answer the question — why is goal setting important?

1. Goals Guide and Align Our Focus

It’s hard to get to where you want to be in life if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. Some people believe avoiding goals means living a more care-free life. How many times have you heard the phrase “If I have no expectations, then I can’t be disappointed”?

But is that really what our lives have come to? Living just to avoid disappointment? It doesn’t seem like an overly optimistic view in my opinion. And since you’re reading this article, I’m willing to bet that you agree with me.

Without goals, we lack a degree of direction and focus. Sure you may be able to avoid disappointment, but just avoiding disappointment doesn’t mean you are necessarily happy.

Without goals, we will pointlessly waste our time, energy, and efforts. Listen to anybody who is the top of their field and they’ll tell you something like this,

“Yes talent is important, but often your success depends much more on what you decide to do with that talent.”

And what you will do with your talent largely depends on your focus.

Your goals give you direction. Your goals give you something to shoot for. This direction and target you create in your mind will help you to progress towards your main life goals rather than simply wander around aimlessly. These goals will help you align your actions and behaviors as you continue moving forward.

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So, why is goal setting important? Because it gives you direction, alignment, and purpose!

2. Goals Help You Avoid ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’

Basically, shiny object syndrome is always being in pursuit of the next big thing, constantly switching your goals based on what you feel is most fun and interesting at the given moment, but never actually giving yourself time to accomplish any of those goals.

You don’t get anywhere because you continually change the direction you are heading in. This is one of the consequences that may result if you decide to live a life without goals.

Your goals can sometimes help you to create mental barriers, or blinders, that help you to remain focused on what you think is important and avoid the things that are second priority. When you outline goals for yourself, you are better able to avoid things that distract you from achieving and accomplishing those goals.

Setting goals helps you to step around the other shiny objects because you’ve taken the time to make some mental notes that remind you what it is that you want from your life. Your goals act as subconscious deterrents to anything less than your main priorities. This is what helps you to reach your personal definition of success.

So, why is goal setting important? Because not only do goals tell you what you want from life, but they also help you realize what you need to give up and avoid to achieve that.

3. Goals Turn Our Largest Goals into Manageable Steps

A lot of us have big hopes and dreams. It’s one of the things that make our lives exciting!

But a lot of us never take the time to figure out how we can effectively get from point A to point B. So, sadly, we never fully achieve those goals. We look at our dreams and convince ourselves that only a select few people ever achieve them, so we write ourselves off as people not meant to reach that level of success. Looking at the end product of a goal can be intimidating, daunting, and discourage us from even pursuing them.

Thankfully, goal setting helps us break large intimidating goals into smaller ones. These small steps and more achievable goals will help us to build momentum and will encourage us to keep working towards the next phase of our goal. The form the foundation from which we can begin building the life that we truly hope to have for ourselves, our families, and may even for our communities depending on how big your goals are!

Whenever I get talking about this aspect of goal setting, I can’t help but think about the mountain climbing analogy, and that the easiest way to climb a mountain is simply step by step.

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So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting gives you a list of manageable steps that you can take in order to take your life from where it is now to where you want it to go both effectively and efficiently.

4. Goals Encourage You to Take Action

This builds on the last benefit of goal setting. Not only does effective goal setting help you break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable ones, but it also encourages you to actually begin taking action on those goals. After all, a plan is completely worthless if you aren’t willing to invest the effort required to execute it.

Setting your goals and putting your plan in place motivates you to begin taking action towards achieving them. These goals give you something to plan and work towards. Essentially, they help propel you forward.

What I like to do is write out and place my goals somewhere that I’ll regularly see them. This constantly serves as a reminder of my top priorities. It allows me to focus on taking small progressive actions towards achieving these goals daily.

This ensures that I don’t fall into the trap of setting a goal, beginning to work towards it for a while, but then having my motivation fade resulting in me falling off track. This is exactly what many people see happen when it comes to their “New Year’s Resolutions.”

If you want to learn about how to take action towards achieving your goal, here’s how: How To Take Action Towards Your Goals Right Now

So, why is goal setting important? Because goal setting actually motivates you to stop thinking about your goals and actually get out there and achieve them!

5. Goal Setting Helps You Continually Improve

This is something that a lot of personal development and self-improvement writers talk about, continual improvement. For those of you who are not aware of the term, continual improvement is exactly what it sounds like — taking small steps towards improvement as frequently as you can to develop into the person you want to become.

What’s the point in improving a little bit each day if you’re not improving in the areas that you want to improve in after all?

The goals that you define for yourself will inevitably shape you into the person who you want to become. They’ll shape your character. Your goals can help you measure your progress as you strive for this type of development.

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Essentially, having goals helps you determine where you started, where you are now, and how much further you need to go. In this manner, your goal setting can serve as milestones and benchmarks that help you determine how well you’re progressing towards your most important goals!

So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting helps you make improvements each day that will slowly transition you into the person you want to become.

6. Goal Setting Keeps You Accountable

Not only does setting goals help you measure your progress, but it also is a means through which you can keep yourself accountable. Too many goals fail because they lack this crucial aspect of outlining accountability.

For example, if I have the goal to do 50 push-ups, that’s great. Most people would support that goal. However, this goal lacks accountability. When do I want to accomplish this goal by and what steps do I take to get there? These are important questions that the original goal leaves unanswered.

A much more descriptive and specific goal could be to do 50 push-ups within the next 3 months by starting at 5 push-ups, and then adding 5 each week. This goal outlines the deadline as well as the steps I’m going to take to achieve it. This plan will keep me accountable because if I fail to retain my progression schedule, I will know that I’m not going to achieve the goal on time.

Additionally, it can serve as a marker helping to signify when something is impeding my progress that I may not have initially accounted for. This tells me that I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing and figure out what adjustments I can make to facilitate my success.

So, why is goal setting important? Setting goals is key to keeping ourselves accountable and on-track towards accomplishing our goals according to the schedules and deadlines we set for ourselves.

7. Goals Make You Feel Good

Trust me, the progress you feel as you set and achieve goals can become super motivating and super addicting (in a good way)! The dopamine release you get from achieving your goals is like a little reward for our brains that continually motivates us to try and hit that next goal!

Having some clearly defined goals will help you to feel better about yourself and your life in general, especially when you stick to those goals, actively work towards achieving them, and end up accomplishing and surpassing your initial expectations. I’m not the oldest book on the shelf myself, but I can attest that there are not many feelings quite like the one you experience when you truly get on a roll!

Additionally, our goals give us an endpoint to shoot for. Rather than progress for progress’s sake, you can actually see where you’re heading! That’s so much more rewarding. Think about a long car trip as a kid. You ask “if you’re there yet?” ever 20 minutes. It seems like the drive drags on forever.

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If you don’t know where you’re going, you risk the journey becoming tedious. It doesn’t tend to be much fun wandering around aimlessly. Goals make us feel good about where we’re directing ourselves.

So, why is goal setting important? Because setting goals and accomplishing them plain and simply make us feel better about ourselves and our lives!

8. Goals Help You Live Your Best Life

I’ve talked a lot in this article about how goal setting helps us progress towards our top priorities and live the way we truly want to live. So I think it’s fit to end the article with this goal because, in the end, I feel it’s the most important one.

Setting your goals and clearly defining what they mean to you will help you live a life that is tailored to your beliefs and values. Your life will become directed towards the things that you most want to achieve.

Life is a tricky game and only in very rare circumstances are things handed to us on a silver platter. Often it takes a great degree of work, planning, and effortful execution of both.

There is no point clinging on to things in your life if they don’t bring you happiness or help you accomplish something that, in some way, aligns with your goals.

Simply put, setting goals helps us live a life that allows us to pursue the challenges and rewards that we truly want to achieve.

So, why is goal setting important? Because our time is always limited, and setting clearly defined goals can help ensure that you make the most of your life and live to the fullest! Find out more here: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the benefits of goal setting that outline why it truly is so important. If you take a moment or two, I bet that you can even think of a few more benefits yourself that you could add to this list.

If I could leave you with something, it would be this:

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Goal setting has the potential to take us to some amazing places in life because we all have talent and ambitions. To achieve your biggest dreams, you need to be willing to sit down and create a life design uniquely tailored to you that will help you achieve them!

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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