Every endeavor begins with a goal in mind. You enroll in college, because you hope to earn your degree. You begin running after work, because you hope to participate in a 5k, come fall. Goals are an excellent way to keep you focused, and always working towards a desired outcome. While it may seem that goal setting comes naturally, there are actually ways to maximize the efficiency and direction of your goals, and ensure that you are able to achieve them. Goal setting 101, so to speak.
Part of the secret to achieving your goals, and maximizing your success rate is to also set reasonable objectives for yourself. Objectives and goals are different things, and sometimes, getting the two confused is easy. While goals are the ultimate outcomes you are striving towards, objectives are like mile markers along the way. They are logical steps and achievements which you can mark off as you continue to proceed, and they are also a great way to keep yourself on track. Let’s begin by looking at a few examples of each, and how they can be applied to different situations.
Goals Vs. Objectives
As stated, goals and objectives are different things. Goals have far-reaching time frames, and are often more vague than objectives. They are more generic, indicating an overall outcome rather than measurable specifics. Objectives on the other hand, are concrete and short term occurrences that ultimately support the goal. These should be tangible and specific, including time frames or quantities.
To give an overall example, let’s assume that you have a goal of “updating your kitchen”. You can see how that is a somewhat immeasurable and broad, but still clear in its overall meaning. The objectives you set along the way might include things like “Paint the cabinets,” “Re-tile the floor,” and “Replace the curtains”. Those are more concrete tasks which can be checked off as you move towards your final goal.
Setting objectives is every bit as important as setting good goals. The objectives help keep you on track, while also giving you a sense of accomplishment along the way. This serves as a means of keeping motivation high when it feels like the payoff is a long ways off. Sometimes, goals will have to be placed far in advance due to necessity (say, graduating in four years). It can be easy to lose sight of it in all that time. Setting objectives helps shape your path to your ultimate goal, while giving you measurable feedback along the way.
Educational Goals and Objectives
Setting educational goals is something that will benefit students, regardless of their age. Beginning in kindergarten, and continuing all the way up until adulthood, goals give students direction, and something to strive for. School is very goal oriented, so this is a great place to begin getting familiar with the concept. An obvious choice would be to pass each grade, and get promoted to the next highest class. Still, there are many other goals to consider for yourself as a learner, and each one comes with some objectives along the way. Let’s take a look at some examples.
Goal: Make the Honor Roll this year.
Objectives: Begin working on projects as soon as they are assigned. Stay after school for extra help once a week. Complete at least one extra credit assignment per marking period.
Goal: Get elected to student government.
Objectives: Get two written recommendations from teachers. Announce candidacy before October. Design and distribute campaign flyers. Organize a school fundraiser.
Goal: Improve chemistry grade from a “C” to an “A”.
Objectives: Organize a chemistry study group. Ask about being paired up with a chemistry tutor. Turn in all homework assignments on time.
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Workplace Goals and Objectives
Setting and meeting goals in the workplace is one of the most beneficial things you can do to further your career. Not only does this help you feel accomplished in your job, but it may also lead directly to increased salary and responsibility. Goal oriented employees are often self starters, and more likely to become leaders. Keeping focused on your goals by making use of logical objectives can help with career advancement.
Goal: Get promoted to executive assistant.
Objectives: Fine tune Microsoft skills. Attend all sales meetings this quarter. Formally request an interview for the position.
Goal: Build a better network of colleagues.
Objectives: Exchange at least three business cards at each meeting. Make use of social networking platforms like LinkedIn. Follow up via email after meeting someone new.
Goal: Launch entrepreneurial business.
Objectives: Get a Kickstarter campaign going. Acquire rental space for new office. Interview to hire 3 workers this quarter.
Health Related Goals and Objectives
If you have ever made a New Year’s resolution, chances are, it had something to do with health. Whether it is weight loss, or getting to the gym more often, or giving up sweets, January seems to be a popular time to try and take your life in a healthier direction. Part of the reason so many struggle to keep up with their resolutions is because they are too vague, and do not make use of attainable objectives along the way. Here are some goals that might be more workable.
Goal: Lose 20 pounds
Objectives: Use a calorie tracker every day, at every meal. Do something active for 20 minutes a day, five times per week. Get two servings of vegetables in every day. Weigh in once a week.
Goal: Run a 5k race.
Objectives: Run one mile without stopping by the end of the first month. Run at least three times a week. Run two miles without stopping by week 7. Finish a practice 5k by week 10. Sign up for local charity 5k.
Goal: Lower blood pressure.
Objectives: Learn how to meditate to help reduce stress. Check blood pressure with a home monitor every day. Engage in cardio activity three times per week. Follow up with the doctor in 60 days.
Family Goals and Objectives
Improving your family life can be beneficial to you, and all those around you. Sometimes, in all the runaround associated with work, school or other responsibilities, we wind up taking our family members for granted without meaning to. Setting some goals can be a great way to help ensure that you are spending more time with your loved ones, and that you are all working together towards greater harmony in the home. Involve your family in these goals, and ask for everyone to work together along with you.
Goal: Spend more time together.
Objectives: Plan two “Family Days” each month. Sit down to dinner together (without cell phones!) at least five times per week. Switch off the TV and Computer every night at 7 pm, to allow more time for conversation.
Goal: Complete a gardening project together as a family
Objectives: Plan out garden location. Decide on five vegetables to grow this season. Allow the kids to plant the seeds in rows. Take time every day to go outside as a family to check on the garden.
Goal: Plan a family getaway
Objectives: Save up $2,000. Contact a travel agent to discuss ideas in your price range. Go shopping together for vacation supplies. Create an itinerary to make sure you can maximize your time while on vacation.
Financial Goals and Objectives
In today’s economy, it is smarter than ever to approach your finances logically, and with firm plans in place. When every dollar counts, you want to make absolutely sure that you are managing your money as best you can. Setting financial goals and objectives will be key for everything from grocery store budgets all the way up to your first home purchase. These goals do not have to be grandiose, or involve large amounts of money. Even kids can begin setting financial goals as a means of practicing money management and responsibility.
Goal: Buy a car.
Objectives: Save up $4,000 for a down payment. Visit at least three dealerships, and negotiate to see who can give you the best price. Discuss financing options. Secure a co-signer if necessary.
Goal: Get the kids a college fund.
Objectives: Meet with an investment professional to discuss options. Arrange for automatic drafts to be added to the college fund on a recurring basis. Find out if your company offers any savings incentives.
Goal: Reduce credit card debt.
Objectives: Research balance transfer options. Transfer remaining balance to a new card with 0% interest. Budget for a $200 per month payment. Have card paid off completely in two years.
Goal: Start a savings account.
Objectives: Speak to someone at your bank about minimum balances. Select and open a savings account with an initial deposit of $50. Arrange for monthly deposits.
Goal setting is important, because your goals are important. Setting objectives will help you remember that as you work toward the final outcome. For more help on reaching your goals, check out “Discover and Accomplish Your Goals in 2014”