Difference between purpose, goals, and objectives

Difference Between Purpose, Goals, and Objectives

A statement of purpose and a description of goals and objectives are important elements that are usually found in specific types of result-oriented documentations and manuscripts such as strategic plans and scholarly publications. Thus, these three concepts are essential in undertakings that involve planning or research and inquiry.

Knowing the difference between purpose, goals, and objectives is essential not only in defining the scope and limits of a particular undertaking but also in appreciating and achieving desired results.

The Difference Between Purpose, Goals, and Objectives

The following standard definitions provided a better understanding of the difference between the three:

1. Purpose: Purpose provides the reason for doing something or more specifically, for justifying the the desired results. It essentially represents intentions.

2. Goals: A goal is a general statement describing the desired results. It represents aspiration or sets future directions or destinations.

3. Objectives: Objectives represent concrete actions needed to achieve the aspirations or steps required to reach predetermined destinations.

From the aforementioned definitions, purpose supersedes goals, which, on the other hand, supersedes objectives. Furthermore, purpose and goal are general and abstract concepts while objectives are not only specific and concrete but also measurable.

Purpose also influences goals and objectives. It provides the foundation for determining desired results, as well as the general framework for driving toward this desired result.

Specific Examples of Purpose, Goals, and Objectives

To illustrate further the difference between the three, take note of the following examples involving organizations, states and governments, and personal affair:

1. Business organizations: An example of a purpose would be to “Run a business that will benefit the owners, provide employment opportunities, while attending to the needs and demands of the public through quality products and services.” From this purpose, the goal is to “Increase revenues and profits within five years.”

The following are the objectives: (1) Reduce operational costs by streamlining functions and processes; (2) Develop and implement marketing strategy; and (3) Explore new market opportunities and create new products or services.

2. States and governments: The nationwide or statewide purpose is to “Build a progressive nation that celebrates humanity and benefits from the diversity in the society” with the goal of “promoting and sustaining social and economic equality in the society.”

Examples of objectives based on the stated purpose and goal: (1) Develop and implement anti-discrimination laws; (2) Improve universal access to healthcare and education; and (3) Design economic policies aimed at inclusive growth.

3. Personal development: An example of personal or professional purpose is “to create a life that is driven by the need to regularly seek a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.” From this purpose, an example of goal is to “Establish a profitable business venture.”

The following are the objectives: (1) Save money to raise capital; (2) Take short courses in entrepreneurship and business management; and (3) Build a network with potential partners and clients.

In businesses and other organizations, purpose is generally expressed in mission and vision statements. However, more specific purposes for more specific goals and objectives can be derived from existing mission and vision statements. Furthermore, it is important to remember that understanding the difference between purpose, goals, and objectives should coincide with knowing the difference between a strategy and a tactic. These two concepts are also essential elements that should be properly defined in planning or research and inquiry undertakings.