A goal is a specific target rather than an objective: an objective might be to run faster, whilst a goal might be to run one mile in six minutes. Goals can help us reach our objectives in life because they specify what we are working towards (thus giving direction) and the amount of effort required to achieve that target (levels of intensity).
Most individuals set themselves some form of goal. Goals are simply statements of our intentions. If we had no intentions then nothing would be achieved. Also, our intentions may refer to something we will do in five minutes time or to something in the future. This vagueness may lead us to forgetting or failing to achieve the things we wanted to.
Long term objectives are particularly vulnerable to this. For example, you may want to paddle harder. The statement is vague, and makes no reference to conditions or type of paddling settings. If the desire is to paddle in advanced conditions, the future target may seem so far removed that we cannot possibly achieve it. A goal is much more specific, I want to circumnavigate Anglesey in August may be better. There are problems with these types of goal, which I will return to later.
With the example just given, the breaking down of long term goals and objectives into manageable chunks has several benefits. You approach your final objective slowly and establishing small successes on the way
Goals appear to be most effective when they are specific, immediate and challenging but realistic and stated in behavioural or action orientated terms so that progress can be measured. Remembering that a good goal is an effective goal that is achievable where the individual has as much control as possible.
Photo: Kayak Wendy
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