Difference Between Objective vs Goal

Difference Between Objective vs Goal

The difference between goals and objectives may seem minimal, but these distinctions are actually significant enough to make the two words and actions different from one another. It is very easy to understand why people confuse them. In their basic nature, they are alike in that they can be performed and utilized in the same fashion and involve the same or similar activities.

However, when you have read through the definition of each word, you will clearly see why they are different and how you can effectively use each one from a practical perspective to allow you to achieve your own personal milestones.

Definition of Objective

An objective is a singular or series of actions required in order to allow a person to achieve either a singular or series of overriding goals.

The simplest way to view the objective vs goal debate is to state simply that one (an objective) is absolutely required in order to reach the other. You cannot arrive at an overriding goal without first completing a series of objectives.

The problem and source of confusion for many is that you will often need to perform actions when fulfilling an objective that tie in very closely with the actions performed to reach a goal. You could say that an objective is somewhat of a “practice run” for achieving a goal.

While objectives in their own right cannot lead to the total attainment of an overriding goal, they are absolutely crucial for allowing a person to reach it. If you do not complete the necessary objectives along the way to your goal, then you will not be able to accomplish the goal you have in mind at large.

An example would be the case of a long distance runner. Although the runner may wish to complete a marathon, she or he must first break a marathon down into several smaller segments and practice these distances in order to be able to comfortably run the full marathon distance.

These “mini” marathons or smaller distances are classified as objectives. Through the fulfilment of these objectives, a person would then be able to perform the actions necessary to succeed in the accomplishment of the goal.

Definition of Goal

A goal is the achievement of an overriding task through the fulfilment of several or one singular objective.

Though the difference between objective and goal can become blurred, it is easy to sum them up from a visual perspective if we state that objectives are the road, and the destination is the goal. You must travel down the road in order to get to your desired location.

It is quite easy to make a visual comparison in the form of stepping stones too because most people will need to fulfil several objectives before fulfilling a goal. By successfully traversing the stepping stones (objectives) in this example, you will then arrive at your goal.

It can become confusing in instances where only one objective must be fulfilled in order to reach a goal. This can make an objective look like a goal because only one action must be performed in order to achieve the overriding task.

Despite only one action being required in these instances, the fact remains that an objective must first be fulfilled in order to attain a goal.

Main Differences Between Objective vs Goal

Below is a goal vs objective reference table highlighting key differences.

Basis of ComparisonGoalObjective
Length of time necessary to achieveLongShort
MeasurabilityVague but measurable with objectivesFact based and measurable
NatureA concept or ideaAlways very specific
Visual referenceA destinationA path
Which comes first?Goals follow objectivesObjectives always come before goals

Difference Between Objective and Goal: Conclusion

Although this may once have been a somewhat confusing subject, now you can see that goals and objectives are actually very different despite involving similar processes. Always remember that goals come after objectives. Overriding goals cannot be attained without achieving a series of or one singular objective first.

It is easy to mix them up, so ensure that you come back to our quick reference table anytime you find yourself lost about this subject in the future. Good luck with your achievements.