Goals and objectives are similar in that they both are an “end toward which effort is directed”. However, goals should be thought of as the ultimate end, while objectives are the strategic steps or tasks by which the ultimate end is achieved. Objectives are specific tasks that need to be completed in order to complete a goal.
An objective of a goal can also be a goal in and of itself. Enabling goals are also objectives. They are explicitly written to help achieve a longer-term goal. Enabling goals are like stepping stones that help measure our progress toward reaching longer-term goals. The objective of obtaining a medical degree for the ultimate goal of becoming a doctor can be a goal itself.
Long-term goals can have many objectives associated with it. Therefore, it would be advantageous to categorize these objectives under short-term goals.
Short-term goals help us stay focused and maintain a positive attitude toward reaching the long-term goals. Being able to “check off” a goal as completed is a positive feeling of success and helps maintain motivation.
Possible objectives for the Lifetime or Capstone goal of going to college would include a wide range of such things as getting good grades in high school, joining a social committee, saving money, determining a major, completing college applications, and taking the SATs.
If you group and categorize these objectives, you can create smaller goals. For example, the objective of “getting good grades” can be change into a goal of “obtain a 3.0 GPA by the end of my junior year of high school.”
Goal: Decide which college to attend.