Goals vs. objectives. Picture of smart goals written on a notebook

Setting Goals vs Objectives: What You Need to Know

Leadership and Project Management

In project management, the terms goal and objective are often used interchangeably. However, there is a crucial difference between these two terms that should not be overlooked. Goals and objectives are essential components of project planning, and understanding their differences can help you create a more effective project plan. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between goals and objectives and discuss some examples of how they can be used in project management.

What is a goal?

A goal is a general statement of what you want to achieve in the long term. Goals are broad statements that describe your overall intention and direction for your project. These are usually qualitative in nature and do not provide any definite timeframe or a specific course of action to achieve the desired results. The primary purpose of setting goals is to provide you and your team with a clear direction toward your project outcome.

For example, a goal could be to improve customer satisfaction for your business. This statement is general and just outlines your broad intentions. A goal for a construction project may be "to build a sustainable housing complex that meets LEED certification standards.

What is an objective?

An objective, on the other hand, is a specific, measurable, and time-bound statement that describes the steps needed to achieve a goal. Objectives are more detailed than goals and are focused on the short-term tasks that are needed to reach a goal. Objectives are often quantitative, and they allow you to track progress and make adjustments. For example, an objective for the construction project goal above could be "to use environmentally-friendly construction materials in all buildings on the site" or "to complete the construction of the entire complex within two years." Another example, of an objective for customer satisfaction could be to increase positive customer feedback on Google Reviews by 20% within the next 6 months.

Why are goals and objectives important?

Setting goals and objectives is important for project management because it helps you create a roadmap for completing tasks efficiently. Goals provide a vision of what the project will look like when it's completed, while objectives provide the specific steps needed to get there. Without clear goals and objectives, projects can become unstructured, and it can be challenging to measure success.

When setting goals and objectives, it's important to ensure they are SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. SMART goals are clear, specific, and measurable, which makes it easier to track progress and adjust your approach as needed. For example, a SMART goal for a financial project could be "to increase profitability by 15 percent in the next quarter by implementing cost-saving measures."

By keeping these criteria in mind when setting goals and objectives, you’ll be able to create more specific and achievable outcomes that will help steer your project toward success.

Examples of goals and their respective objectives:

When setting objectives, they should align with your goals. Here are a few examples of goals and their respective objectives.

Goal: Increase revenue for the business.


- Increase sales by 20% in the next quarter.

- Develop a new line of products that can generate an additional $100k in sales in the next year.

- Achieve a net profit margin of 15% in five years.

Goal: Create a more engaging online presence for your business.


- Grow social media presence by 25% in the next six months.

- Increase website traffic from social media by 30% in the next year.

- Launch a monthly blog series to create more engaging content and increase customer traffic.

In conclusion, understanding the difference between goals and objectives is crucial for effective project management. Goals provide direction and purpose, while objectives provide the specific steps needed to achieve those goals. By setting SMART goals and objectives, you can create a roadmap for completing tasks efficiently and measure success along the way. So, the next time you plan a project, remember to set clear, specific goals and objectives to guide your team toward success.