What is a goal?
Hold on just a moment though, what do we mean by a ‘goal’? Everyone atsome point in their life has heard that it is important for us to have goals.Goals provide you a map to your future, whether in business, life, career orindeed sport. It seems obvious, but a football team playing without a goal toaim for is just kicking a ball around. But, other than the more obviousphysical goals as the target of a particular game, what exactly is a goal? Andhow do you know when you have achieved it? Is it even very important tohave goals? A sporting goal is a useful analogy though, here we are moreinterested in the non-sporting variety.The OED definition of a goal is “an aim or a desired result”. That’s useful, but Iprefer the Wikipedia version which defines a goal as “a specific, intendedresult of strategy.” They amount, ultimately to the same thing: the intendedachievement of a desired result. The dictionary definition, however, suggeststhat the goal exists with or without you. Why is this important? I hear somequestion already. Let me share an example:On the horizon is a mountain, its peak visible on this glorious day. It is yourgoal. You are aiming to reach the peak of this mountain.According to the dictionary the goal is the mountain peak. According to theencyclopaedia, the intended result is that you reach the mountain peak as aresult of the journey (intended strategy) you are making.
What’s important, the existence of the goal or the journeyto its attainment?
Let me refer briefly back to soccer… Is the existence of the goal at the end of the pitch the thing that makes the game, or is it the strategy (and tactics)employed by players to score (reach) the goal?The reason for being pedantic at this stage is to stress that we refer (inEnglish) to goal as both an entity and as the intended result of our actions.For the purposes of this article, I refer to goal as both - an entity that we areable to describe in one or more of the five senses we enjoy and as a specific,intended result. I believe that it is critical that a goal can be described in oneor more of our senses - otherwise we will never know what it is.
“A man without a goal, you are like a ship without a rudder.” ThomasCarlyle
You know people, perhaps yourself, who would be lost without a “To Do” list.Daily, weekly, monthly tasks that result in specific intended results. Manypeople will consider this as their goals. Indeed, you can call them ‘goals’ if youwish. But I want to distinguish this concept further. I call these daily, weekly,monthly tasks “Outcomes” - they are important steps on the way to achievinggoals but they are a small part of the overall intended result.