When the question was asked of the group, I thought about how the meaning of the word "goals" is slowly changing. Whenever I come across an aesthetically pleasing image on social media, I'm almost certain to find a comment where someone classifies the situations as #goals.
It seems like labeling something we aspire to as "goals" is commonplace. There's nothing wrong with that, but I feel like this newly evolved definition is possibly setting us up for failure.
In the corporate world, planning for the new year typically involves creating objectives. There is a clear difference between talking about our future goals versus creating objectives for the following year. Goals are aspirational in nature. It's like something we wish to experience. Another thing I notice about the goals we set for ourselves is that they rarely come with any additional details on how this goal will be achieved.
During End of Year planning, in my previous role, we would create clear objectives for the upcoming year. Under each objective, we'd list out several actionable steps that would allow us to reach those objectives. In some cases, we'd write down milestones to demonstrate that we were on our way to achieving those goals. While developing our objectives, we were setting clear expectations for the following year. And did everything possible to ensure that our objectives would be met.
If for whatever reason, they weren't met, we could expect to have a tough conversation with our supervisor on why we fell short and what we would do differently to prevent this from happening again.
I can't honestly say that every goal I set for myself is viewed as an expectation. It's more of a wishlist. There's nothing wrong with seeing something aspiring and labeling it "goals." I just have to remember that there's a difference. If I want to experience that outcome sooner than later, I need to redefine it as an objective and adjust my actions accordingly. From there, I can begin the process of writing down clear, specific actions and milestones that demonstrate that I'm on the right path. If I don't follow the process of identifying clear objectives, then I'm probably never going to experience those #goals is real life.
"If I want to experience an outcome sooner than later, I need to redefine it as an objective...."
To me, it's like the difference between putting an item on a wish list versus placing it in the cart. I've had some of the same items on my wishlist for years. I'm interested in them, but not interested enough to make a move. But once it's in the cart, there's a clear expectation that I intend to purchase. As I plan for the year ahead, I'll have to make a clear distinction between my goals & objectives. The goals are the outcomes on my "nice to have" list while my objectives are the absolute "must haves."