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Goals and Objectives

Defining Goals vs. Objectives as a Freelancer

Doug Shaffer
Doug Shaffer


It’s common to be confused about the difference between a goal and an objective. In this article, we simply break down each of these terms.

So the breakdown?

Goals are defined as broad or long-term desired results you want to achieve.

An objective defines specific, measurable actions that are taken in order to achieve the goal you have set in place.

What are the Features of a Goal?

For freelancers who are running their own business, establishing goals is an important part of ensuring success. They provide both structure and direction for the growth of your services. That is why many organizations will create lists of the ones they want to achieve on a quarterly and annual basis. Other areas that might benefit include the following:

  • Company Strategy
  • Financial Projections
  • Company Culture
  • Crucial Business Initiatives

As you can see, goals tend to be large in size and intangible, making them hard to measure. You can say you want to improve company culture, but how do you really measure success? The easiest way to go about it is by using a benchmark known as an objective.

Objectives provide details and specific actions that create measurable steps that are taken in reaching any goal. They also provide a clear understanding of any tasks or sub-projects that need to be completed on your way.

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals includes Objectives

Since objectives are more detailed and produce tangible results that are tracked more easily. Many organizations will use S.M.A.R.T as a criteria in defining and measuring objectives for a goal. The S.M.A.R.T program is made up of five elements including specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Below is a quick overview of each of the sections and how you can utilize them when creating goals:

  • Specific - When setting objectives they need clarity, with real metrics that can be tracked against a deadline.
  • Measurable - Pairing your objectives with key performance indicators makes tracking success easier.
  • Attainable - While goals should be harder to reach, objectives need to have the ability to be completed relatively quickly.
  • Relevant - Objectives should move you down the path toward your long-term goal. That means they should be related to that goal and align with what you are trying to achieve.
  • Time-bound - Creating concrete deadlines for your objective helps hold you and everyone associated with the task accountable for delivering in a timely manner.

For more information about goals and objective setting, visit our blog on How to Set Goals.


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