What are Goals? Achieve More By Changing Your Perspectives (2023)

As simple as it sounds, the question, what are goals, is a very important question to answer if making the best out of our daily lives is something of great concern.

Anyone will assume they already know what goals are, they’ve probably been setting goals all their lives. However, when we get too familiar with certain concepts, we tend to forget their real meaning and essence. Hence, it is not surprising that people set many goals but achieve too little.

When you don’t understand what goals are or what they are meant to be, you might scribble anything on paper and call them goals and then get frustrated when you fail to achieve them.

There are different perspectives on goals and what they represent. However, this article looks into the real meaning of goals and provides clarity on some misconceptions about goals. It also suggests better ways to look at goals; in a way to use them as progress markers rather than yardsticks for measuring success or failure.

Table of Contents

  1. What Are Goals?
  2. Common Confusions About Goals
    • Goal vs Dream
    • Goal vs Vision
    • Goal vs Expectation
    • Goal vs Desire
    • Goal vs Objective
  3. What Most People Are Wrong About Goals
  4. Redefining Goals
  5. Types of Goals
    • Time-Based
    • Life-Based
  6. The Bottom Line

What Are Goals?

There are different definitions of goal(s) out there, however, let’s look at this one from the early pioneers in goal-setting theory:[1]

A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envision, plan and commit to achieve.

Goals represent the decisions we make and the commitments we take in order to reach attainment, break some bad habits, adopt useful habits or achieve more in different areas of life.

Goals enable us to achieve focus in life by helping us to determine what we want. They keep us motivated and propelled, constantly putting us in state of action.

Goals, when properly conceived and pursued can help us to maximize the one and only life we have to live.

Goals can be applied to different areas of our lives and they can also be based on a time range. For example, life-based goals can be personal development goals, career goals, educational goals, health goals, family and relationship goals, spiritual goals, social goals, etc.

Moreso, goals can be set based on time and duration such as life-time goals, long term goals, short term goals and even stepping stone goals which are small unit goals that we undertake in order to achieve the short, long and lifetime goals.

Common Confusions About Goals

In order to put goals in their proper perspectives and make the most of them, certain clarifications are required between goals and its related concepts.

The following are often confused with goals, although they have their own relevance on goals and goal setting:

Goal vs Dream

Dreams are aspirations fuelled by desires. They exist in the realm of imagination and often give us inspiration.

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However, goals are action-based. Goals stretch us and help us to achieve results. Our dreams can only be actualized by setting realistic goals and working diligently to achieve them.

Goal vs Vision

Visions are important in life but they are not the same as goals. Your vision represents where you want to go or be in life, a destination you aim to arrive at. However, the paths that will get you to that destination are often undefined until you break them down into goals.

Goals help you to understand and quantify the steps you will have to take in order to actualize your vision. Having a broader life vision will help you to achieve more goals.

Besides, vision will bring focus to your goal setting when your goals are directed at getting you to the final destination of your vision. When this happens, you will not only be satisfied with achieving a particular goal, you will view your progress and success in terms of their contribution to your overall vision.

Goal vs Expectation

Goals should not be confused with expectations. Expectations are things that we think we should have or heights we feel we should attain. It is said that expectations can generate frustration when you feel you aren’t performing up to your potential.[2]

Do you notice that when some Olympic teams are being interviewed before a tournament, many of them expect to win a medal? But do all of them win medals?

When you listen to the real winners after the tournament, they will tell you how their goals helped them to structure their attention and focus, and keep them involved to strive for excellence.

Goals demand more focus and clarity whereas expectations are often not realistic.

Goal vs Desire

We all have desires, they represent the things we want. However, in order to get our desires, we might have to set goals.

While desires are usually pleasant, goals may not be.

For example, slimming down feels good, but exercising does not. But it takes a reasonable amount of exercise to burn fat.

Vacationing on a cruise ship feels good, who doesn’t want it? However, working extra hours to save money for the trip is hard.

Goals are the specific actions we set to accomplish in order to satisfy our desires.

Goal vs Objective

Objectives are the tasks we must accomplish in order to achieve our goals. It will be more useful to differentiate between goal and objective by looking at the differences between a broader term G’SOT which stands for Goals, Strategies, Objectives, and Tactics.[3]

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  • A goal is a broad primary outcome
  • A strategy is the approach you take to achieve a goal
  • An objective is a measurable step you take to achieve a strategy
  • A tactic is a tool you use in pursuing an objective associated with a strategy.

The Intel example below is also useful to illustrate the difference:

Goal: Make our Core PC microprocessors a category leader in sales revenue by year X

Strategy: Persuade buyers that our Core processors are the best one the market by associating with large, well-established PC manufacturers.

Objective: Retain 70 percent or more of the active worldwide PC microprocessor market, according to Passmark’s CPU benchmark report.

Tactic: Through creative that underlies our messaging, leverage hardware partner brand awareness to include key messages about the Intel Inside program.

What Most People Are Wrong About Goals

According to a study, only 8 percent of people get to achieve their goals.[4]When goals are not properly conceived or when we go about goals with the wrong perspectives, we might not be able to achieve our goals and even get frustrated as a result.

Some people have abandoned their goals or given up on setting goals altogether as a result. Others have gotten to the point of staying frustrated for failing to achieve their goals. These are not unconnected to the misconceptions that many have about goals.

Let’s look at the misconceptions about goals:

Goals Are Used as the Only Measure of Success?

When goals become our only measure of success, we might get obsessed with the results we want to achieve that we don’t consider the process that will lead us there.

Process goals and outcome goals come to mind on this. Most people set outcome goals rather than process goals. Outcome goals are only based on results while process goals are based on undertaking the right activities that will eventually lead to a great outcome.

Let’s say I currently make $1000 a week and then I set a goal of making $2000 but only ended up with $1300 after putting in all the work and strategies. If this is an outcome goal, I would probably be unhappy for not attaining my goal. However, if it’s a process goal, I would be happy that I have improved on my earning and would be motivated to do more.

Goals Are Connected with Happiness?

Another myth about goals is that achieving them brings happiness. Of course, it feels good to shed the weight or spend a vacation on a cruise ship. However, there are no guarantees that you will always be able to achieve all your set goals.

In order not to get frustrated often, choose to always be a happy person rather than letting outcomes determine your happiness.

Redefining Goals

So, what really are goals if you want to succeed with them?

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Goals Aren’t Connected with Deep Ambitions

Many people have the wrong motivation to set goals. They might have been genuinely inspired by what they see other people achieve, however, such goals may not connect with their deepest ambition. This might lead to a lack of the required motivation to pursue and achieve the goals.

Genuine goals must connect to a bigger and broader life vision. Goals are not an end in themselves, they are supposed to be stepping stones to achieving something bigger.

Goals Have to Be Achieved to Prove Commitment

If the target is to achieve ten and you are only able to achieve six, it doesn’t mean that you are not committed. It might have been that there are greater obstacles you didn’t think would come up.

This is why your goals must be flexible, adjustable and reflective of current realities.

If you’re wondering how to set and reach your goals, take a look at this guide: A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success

Types of Goals

Before we move onto the technique of setting effective goals, we need to first take a look at all types of goals in this goal setting tips guide.

These categories will not just help you brainstorm new one for yourself, but it will also guide you to list them down in the right way.


One of the two broad categories of goals is based on time. These goals define how far in the future you want to achieve them.


There are certain smaller goals that you can easily achieve in a day or two. In fact, some of these daily goals can be recurring, too. For example, you may want to run for an hour every morning.

Now, these daily goals can also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. You may be running every day because, in the long-term, you want to increase your stamina.

Daily goals are highly effective for people who want to improve their mental wellbeing, time management skills, and stress management.


Next in line are short-term goals. As you would have already guessed, goal setting in this area is aimed at the near future.

The great thing about these is that they are generally easier to achieve. This is because short-term goals are set for the foreseeable future. You are aware of the circumstances and have a general idea of how much the situation can change.

Just like daily goals, short-term goals may also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. Your short-term goal may be to lose 5 pounds in one month. That could be a goal in itself, or maybe it is just one objective to fulfill your goal to adopt a healthy lifestyle in the next two years.

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Another example of a short-term goal is to fulfill the checklist for promotion within the next 6 months. Or, you may want to reduce your screen time within the coming week.


Lastly, we have long-term goals that are meant to be completed over a stretched period.

Whatever you want to achieve in a later stage of life is a long-term goal. An insurance plan, for example, is a long-term goal.

Some long-term goals don’t have any time frame at all. They are goals that you want to accomplish at some point in your life. So, something like traveling the whole world is a lifelong goal with no specific time constraint at all.

There’s one thing about long-term goals that isn’t great.

They are the hardest to keep up with since you’re not seeing any huge achievements regularly. This may take a toll on your motivation. To tackle this problem, it is best to divide a long-term goal into various, short-term and daily objectives so that you’re always tracking the progress you’re making.


Moving forward, you can also start goal setting based on the results you want to achieve instead of the time period.


Like most people, you will likely want to succeed and excel in your career. Anything that has to do with this intention, regardless of the time frame, is a career goal. These are usually measurable goals, such as receiving a promotion within two years, finding a job at a certain company within the next six months, etc.

You can learn more about how to set successful career goals here.


The past few years have all been about emphasizing your personal health. So, when it comes to goals, how can we forget the ones that have to do with our personal gains?

From health to finances to relationships, everything that brings you happiness and composure as a person is a personal goal. It’s important that these are realistic and attainable goals for your life.

Whether you want to get rid of your debt, quit smoking, start a side hustle, have children, or travel the world, all of these goals are personal and very important to have on your list.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, the ideas shared above will help you to set the right goals and put them in the right perspectives.

You have seen that it is more appropriate to set goals that fit into a larger, broader vision of your life. This will help you to begin to see your goals in terms of the progress you are making towards your broader vision rather than on specific outcomes. You will become happier, knowing that you are taking specific steps in the right direction irrespective of what the immediate results look like.

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All these will altogether help you to love setting goals again, and enable you to make the most of them in order to make your life count.

Featured photo credit: Dan DeAlmeida via unsplash.com


How can perspective help you set and achieve goals? ›

10 Ways to Reach Your Goals with the Power of Perspective
  1. 1) Stop expecting the worst of people: ...
  2. 2) Stop dreading Monday mornings: ...
  3. 3) Learn to live in the moment: ...
  4. 4) Celebrate the little things: ...
  5. 5) Make an effort to understand: ...
  6. 6) An 'all or nothing' attitude confines: ...
  7. 7) Learn to let stuff go:

How do you achieve perspective? ›

Perspective gives a three-dimensional feeling to flat images. To achieve this effect, you need to draw nearer objects larger than further objects.

What is the goal of perspective? ›

Artists use perspective techniques to create a realistic impression of depth, 'play with' perspective to present dramatic or disorientating images. Perspective can also mean a point of view – the position from which an individual or group of people see and respond to, the world around them.

What are the most important things to achieve a goal? ›

Healthy habits, like getting enough sleep, eating well and taking care of yourself, will give you the energy and stamina you need. Productivity habits, like learning to prioritize tasks, work efficiently and stay focused, will make it much easier to reach your goals.

How do you answer what goals have you achieved? ›

Your answer should briefly describe the goal and why you chose it, how you planned to achieve it, and how you followed the necessary steps to reach it. The goal can be personal or professional. It's how you met the goal that's important in answering this question.

What is the best goals in life? ›

Intrinsic Life Goals

Finding and keeping a healthy work-life balance, with time for friends and family; Living with integrity, being honest and open with others; Inspiring others through your beliefs and actions; Being a great listener so that others can turn to you; or.

What are the five goals you want to achieve? ›

  • 5 Types of Goals to Set in Life and How to Achieve Them. Know your goals, change your life. ...
  • Career Goals. “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” ...
  • Financial Goals. Career goals and financial goals are often intertwined. ...
  • Personal Development Goals. ...
  • Spiritual Goals. ...
  • Relationship Goals.
14 Aug 2020

What is your most important goal in life? ›

While some goals may be more relevant at one stage of one's life, they may lose relevance at another time and place. It's universally acknowledged nowadays, given the sweep of positive psychology sensitizations, that one of the most, if not the most, important goal of life is happiness.

How do I change my perspective? ›

25 Ways to Change Your Perspective and Improve Your Life
  1. Stop comparing yourself to others. ...
  2. Embrace change. ...
  3. Don't sweat the small stuff. ...
  4. Look on the bright side. ...
  5. Don't take things for granted. ...
  6. Forgive and forget. ...
  7. Live in the present. ...
  8. Don't be afraid to try new things.

How do you improve your perspective? ›

6 Strategies For Gaining Perspective
  1. Take time to reconnect with your mission. ...
  2. Follow your awe. ...
  3. Utilize the power of “Yes, and…” thinking. ...
  4. Notice “all or nothing” thinking. ...
  5. Put yourself in someone else's shoes. ...
  6. Zoom out, but don't zone out.
22 Jun 2021

How can I improve my perspective thinking? ›

Helpful strategies for taking another's perspective include: imagining yourself having the same experience as another person. using your own similar past experience to understand another's situation. applying general knowledge (e.g., stereotypes) about how people are likely to react in particular situations.

What is a perspective example? ›

Perspective is the way that one looks at something. It is also an art technique that changes the distance or depth of an object on paper. An example of perspective is farmer's opinion about a lack of rain. An example of perspective is a painting where the railroad tracks appear to be curving into the distance.

What are the benefits of perspective taking? ›

Social psychological research has demonstrated many benefits of perspective-taking — increased altruism, decreased stereotyping, and a stronger social bond with another person.

What is 3 point perspective explain with example? ›

Definition of three-point perspective

: linear perspective in which parallel lines along the width of an object meet at two separate points on the horizon and vertical lines on the object meet at a point on the perpendicular bisector of the horizon line.

How do you achieve what you want to achieve? ›

8 secrets to getting everything you want in life
  1. Calculate your lifestyle net worth. ...
  2. Move past failure. ...
  3. Change your mindset. ...
  4. Practice 'vibrational giving' ...
  5. Work hard and know your 'why' ...
  6. Slow down and meditate. ...
  7. Develop your network. ...
  8. Focus on self-development.
7 Mar 2019

What are personal goals? ›

What are personal goals? Personal goals are short- or long-term goals that can apply to your work, family life or lifestyle. They are meant to motivate you to achieve what you want in life.

What will you achieve in life? ›

Whether it means having a great career, a home or a family, success is something everyone strives to achieve.
Tips for how to become successful
  • Be committed. ...
  • Learn from the journey. ...
  • Have fun along the way. ...
  • Think positively. ...
  • Change your perspective. ...
  • Be honest with yourself.

What is the best answer for future goals? ›

Laying out a list of goals doesn't make for a very convincing answer. Instead, focus on one or two main goals and briefly explain how you plan on achieving them or how they will benefit your career in the long-term. This shows that you have thought these goals through and are clear about what you want in the future.

How do you achieve your goals and dreams? ›

7 Things You Should Know To Reach Your Dreams
  1. Be Confident and Positive. ...
  2. Focus Forward & Visualize Your Dream. ...
  3. Make Every Step Fun. ...
  4. Break Down Your Plans Into Little Pieces. ...
  5. Don't Listen To Negative People. ...
  6. Find Wise Help and Loving Support. ...
  7. Take Necessary Risks That Feel Right.

How do you set goals for yourself? ›

  1. Decide. Think of something you want to do or work towards. ...
  2. Write it down. Carefully. ...
  3. Tell someone. Telling someone we know about our goals also seems to increase the likelihood that we will stick at them.
  4. Break your goal down. This is especially important for big goals. ...
  5. Plan your first step. ...
  6. Keep going. ...
  7. Celebrate.

What is the most important goal of an individual? ›

Answer. Explanation: The most important goal in life is to lead a healthy life and keeping your body fit, because health is the only thing that you can not buy with money.

Why is it important to put things in perspective? ›

“Seeing things from a different perspective helps people see situations and problem-solve more effectively.” For example, if you're worried about a looming work deadline, consider how an even-keeled co-worker may handle the stress. Then, try to approach the issue the same way.

Why Perspective taking is an essential skill for success? ›

Empathy is the ability to take on and relate to someone else's feeling or emotions. Perspective taking removes all the emotional aspects and is strictly concerned with how the other person perceives a situation. This is a very important distinction in a professional setting.

Why is perspective important in decision making? ›

It helps in understanding how they will think, they may respond and what their preferences are. Especially, if the decision impacts the customer, it is good to reach out and get their views.

What are some examples of perspective? ›

Perspective is the way that one looks at something. It is also an art technique that changes the distance or depth of an object on paper. An example of perspective is farmer's opinion about a lack of rain. An example of perspective is a painting where the railroad tracks appear to be curving into the distance.

What are examples of perspective taking? ›

imagining yourself having the same experience as another person. using your own similar past experience to understand another's situation. applying general knowledge (e.g., stereotypes) about how people are likely to react in particular situations.

What happens when you gain perspective? ›

When we talk about perspective, what we're really evaluating is the way you look at something. By taking a wider view, you might start to see relationships and opportunities to work with others you would otherwise miss, which could lead to increased connectivity and impact.

What does it mean to keep things into perspective? ›

(idiomatic) To compare something with a similar thing to give a clearer, more accurate idea. You can put your worries into perspective when you realise how many people in the world are so much worse off than you.

What does it mean to keep things in perspective? ›

to think about a situation or problem in a wise and reasonable way: You must keep things in perspective - the overall situation isn't really that bad.

How do you keep a good perspective? ›

Keeping Things In Perspective
  1. Turn the statistics around. ...
  2. Remind yourself of what is going well. ...
  3. Consider the best and worse that could happen. ...
  4. See every situation as a learning opportunity. ...
  5. Keep calm. ...
  6. Think rationally. ...
  7. Focus on the bigger picture and your longer term goals.

How do you explain perspective? ›

Perspective-taking refers to a person's ability to consider a situation from a different point of view. It requires you to put yourself in the other person's position and imagine what you would feel, think, or do if you were in that situation.

How do you handle different perspectives? ›

The ultimate key in dealing with perspectives is to respect one-another differences, have tolerance while focusing on strengths instead of weaknesses, solutions instead of problems. This will give the best opportunity in working together to achieve a common goal and in creating a mutually win/win situation.

How does perspective influence meaning? ›

Perspective Definition

Perspective (purr-SPEK-tihv) is the way a character's perceptions, values, and opinions affect a story. It is influenced by factors like personality, socioeconomic status, cultural background, education, spirituality, and language.

How do you deal with different perspectives in the workplace? ›

How to Manage Differing Opinions in the Workplace
  1. Be Respectful, Patient, and Empathetic. ...
  2. Give Everyone a Chance to Speak. ...
  3. Set Boundaries. ...
  4. Invite Constructive Criticism. ...
  5. Never Suppress a Conflict. ...
  6. Ask for Opinions in Advance. ...
  7. More from Career & Workforce.
17 Aug 2021


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