Difference between “goals” and “objectives”
For a work related thing (sales) I need to list goals and also list objectives. What are the differences?
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In colloquial speech the two are interchangeable but for business purposes many people do make a distinction between the two.
During my studies for a degree in business administration I was taught that goals are somewhat fuzzier than objectives, e.g. "I want to sell more next year". On the other hand, objectives should be SMART (i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely), e.g. "Next year I want to increase sales by 10% before 31 December."
Keep in mind that in practice a goal can be made more concrete by defining the objectives that are needed to attain that goal. In other words, one goal can be supported by several objectives, and when all those specific objectives have been met you could claim that your goal has been reached.
Here's two websites that explain the difference in a bit more detail:
I usually associate with goals my long-term aspirations or things I work toward. A goal may also be the expected result of some plan of action, with which I associate the word objective. But they’re synonyms, really.
I rarely hear someone enumerate their life “objectives,” but frequently hear them speak of their life “goals.” In this way, I’d expect objective to be used in the context of a particular task.