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When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut. Little kids are full of goals, but lack objectives. Today, I am going to go for a run. Adults tend to rely more on objectives, and lose sight of goals. With so much talk of achievement and aspirations, there is a lot of language to decipher. Here at BetterYou, we talk a lot about both goals and objectives. Without the right context, this language distinction can be confusing. In order to best help you understand the importance of your journey, you have to be able to use the right lingo to capture what you mean. Let’s break down the basics.

Definitions

First, a goal is some major aspiration to work toward. This is something big, like running a marathon or starting a business. Goals tend to involve long term timelines and intensive commitments. Objectives, on the other hand, are the smaller tasks involved in reaching the goals. To expand on the marathon example, going for a run every day is an appropriate objective. To start a business, you need to account for finances, marketing, sales, product development, and management sectors, to name a few. Hiring or personally managing each of those could be objectives in order to achieve the big goal driving the movement. 

Many goals are personal, which can make setting objectives harder. If you want to practice mindfulness, that can be hard to quantify. That is why we recommend the SMART framework, which sets up goals that are realistic and measurable. That way, you can increase things like time spent meditating and practicing intentional self care. Those objectives can play into the ultimate goal of becoming more mindful, and following a structure for yourself.

Why do goals and objectives work?

Our brain rewards any success. When you accomplish something, your brain releases dopamine, a chemical that is associated with satisfaction and rewards. This biological response is the best motivator we have. Once you get that hit once, you are more likely to make more progress. There is a reason self help books and advice usually starts with a small step. If you can prove to yourself that you can do it, you will do more. That is where objectives come in. If you wanted to be a professional baseball player as a kid, the way to make that happen would be to play on teams as you grow up and practice a lot. Every practice you go to is a small success towards your goal, so your brain rewards you for putting in the work. Eventually, you start going every time to feel the accomplishment. 

If you are having a hard time coming up with measurable steps for your abstract goals, consider trying some of the other ways to accomplish a goal. Clearly define your goal, and identify your motivation. This will help you on the days when your steps feel too slow or difficult. Writing down your specific goal and action plan is another great strategy to hold yourself accountable. When you have a paper plan, there is no getting around the fact of it. If you want to change the plan, you have to have a good enough reason. One other way that we love at BetterYou is engaging an accountability partner. This can be a family member, friend, coworker, or really anyone who wants to see you succeed. Whether or not they have the same goal, they act as someone you keep in touch with about your progress. This connection will encourage you to practice discipline. No one wants to let down their loved ones. We are more likely to actually stay up to date when there is someone to update on the other end of it. This can be useful in accomplishing tedious objectives or achieving goals we lack passion about, like sleeping more or keeping up with work projects.

Goals and objectives work together to help us get things done. It is meaningless to have one without the other. Even if you already have both of these present in your life, knowing the language can help you understand the importance of the different aspects of accomplishing big goals. With hard work and dedication, you can do anything!