Goal: Concept, Characteristics, Types and Examples

We explain what a goal is, its main characteristics and the types that exist. Also, its difference with one goal and several examples.

A goal is what we hope to achieve through a specific procedure.

What is a goal?

A goal or end is the expected or imagined result of a system, an action or a trajectory, that is, what we hope to obtain or achieve through a specific procedure. Organizations, individuals, groups, all set goals and procedures to make them come true.

The word meta comes from Latin, and it designated a series of conical objects that were placed at the ends of the Roman circus race track, marking the beginning and end of the trajectory.

From there it was taken as a metaphor for the end, the objective, and therefore also the usefulness of a given process. It should not be confused, however, with the prefix meta-, coming instead from the Greek, and which means “beyond”.

There are many ways of conceiving goals, and in Western culture individual fulfillment, happiness, and the fulfillment of the goals that we have proposed are closely related.

The setting of goals is called planning, and its fulfillment, efficiency or effectiveness. This in corporate or organizational language.

Characteristics of a goal

Goals must be achievable within a specified time frame.

The goals must have the following characteristics:

  • It must be achievable. An unreal or unattainable goal ceases to be, and becomes more of a dream, a fantasy or an imagination.
  • Must be observable. Goals must be part of a current system, that is, they must be measurable against a starting point in the matter. Otherwise it would not be possible to know when it is fulfilled.
  • It must occur in a finite time. Goals must be able to be met within a certain time frame, they cannot be eternal.

Types of goals

There are different types of goal, depending on the time it will take to perform them:

  • Short term goals. Those that require a short period of time to perform. Days, weeks or months, for example.
  • Medium term goals. Those that require a sustained effort over time to be fulfilled. Months or years, for example.
  • Long-term goals. Those that need a long period of time to materialize. Years or decades, for example.

And, instead, according to their final mission, they can be:

  • Domain goals. Those whose mission is to accumulate knowledge or capabilities, which represent a greater scope or power for those who fulfill them.
  • Performance goals. Those that are fulfilled by demonstrating capabilities to others or standing out within a certain population.
  • Avoidance goals. Those that are fulfilled when a procedure or risk is avoided, an action is quickly carried out or is completely avoided.

Difference between goal and objective

Although they are often used synonymously, a goal and an objective are not exactly the same. This difference lies in the measurable, concrete, specific nature of the objectives, in contrast to the broader and more general vision of the goal.

It could be considered that objectives are steps taken to reach the goal, as if it were to reach the top of a ladder and they climb each of the steps of the same.

Meta examples

Learning to play a musical instrument can be a medium-term goal.

Goals can be extremely diverse, since they depend on the aspirations of each person or organization that sets them, for example:

  • Lose weight. For many people, reaching a more balanced weight is a personal goal, the fulfillment of which involves another series of objectives and small steps.
  • Learn a language. Being fluent in a foreign language is a goal that requires continued and sustained effort to achieve.
  • Learn to play an instrument musical. Whatever it is, and in any way, this goal will require effort and professional assistance, which may be short-term objectives.
  • Improve family relationship. This could well be a short-term goal for over-dedicated professionals who sacrifice their families to do so.
  • Reach the manager position. In a company or company, the managerial position is coveted by many, but not everyone takes the necessary steps to stand out in their work and take hold of it.
  • Write a novel. Another perfect example of a goal that is achievable in principle, but that will require a series of sustained efforts over time.