Is there a term to describe a goal which it's unlikely will ever be fully achieved, but should be aimed for anyway?

E.g. "All business processes should be fully documented" is a great goal to have. It's also a pretty unrealistic expectation that this goal could ever be met when the shear number of processes this should cover, tied to the fact that processes change over time so would need the documentation to constantly be updated, is taken into account.

Despite 100% adherence being unlikely it still makes sense to have this goal in mind; since any work towards that goal makes things better / is a step in the right direction.

I like to make it clear when asking for such things that I realise that the request is impossible, since otherwise stating such goals is more likely met with arguments that the 100% achievable piece is impossible, rather than the focus being on making improvements in this general direction.

I've historically used terms like "Utopian Vision" for this, but suspect there's better wording available.

3 Answers 3


You are describing an ideal.

Ideally, all business processes should be fully documented.

1. A conception of something in its absolute perfection: the ideal of national unity.
2. One that is regarded as a standard or model of perfection or excellence: The restaurant is considered the ideal in fine dining.
3. An ultimate or worthy object of endeavor; a goal: "those who regarded even a rhetorical commitment to the ideal of disarmament as irresponsibly utopian" (James Carroll).

1. Conforming to a standard of perfection or excellence; perfect or highly satisfactory: an ideal work environment.

a. Existing only in the mind; imaginary: an ideal world where everything works out fine.
b. Lacking practicality or the possibility of realization: an ideal notion of how businesses are run.

American Heritage


It may be said, :

Strive for the IDEAL

for how hard we try and how painstaking our efforts are , IDEAL eludes attainment. We may , at best aim at PERFECTION.


An aspiration seems to fit the bill:

  1. strong desire to achieve something, such as success
  2. the aim of such desire

Collins Dictionary

  1. something that you hope to achieve

Cambridge Dictionary

Although most definitions do not explicitly state it, while one can, sometimes, achieve your aspirations, for the most part they are usually unattainable goals that you can only hope to advance towards.

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