Goals vs. Objectives vs. Strategies vs. Tactics

The beginning of a new year often means setting new personal goals and work objectives.

While establishing new desired outcomes and planning how we are going to achieve them, some of us may be confused about the differences between goals, objectives, strategies and tactics.

Generally speaking, here’s a brief explanation of each followed by an example at the bottom.


Goals are longer term and are not necessarily tangible.  They define the desired end results that we strive to achieve.  Goals provide direction and a purpose for our efforts.


Objectives are shorter term and should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-oriented (SMART).  Objectives support the achievement of related goals.


Strategies are general approaches used to achieve complicated goals or objectives.


Tactics are actions taken or tools used to help implement the strategies, achieve objectives and attain goals.

By way of example, following is one of my personal goals for this year.


Live healthier and lower my cholesterol.


Better food, less beer and more exercise.


1)     Participate in a challenge organized by one of my work colleagues to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks starting today, which means having a maximum weight of 192.4 pounds on March 18.

2)     Drink no beer from Sunday to Thursday until Easter.

3)     Do exercise at least 3 times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes each time until June 30.

4)     Train for and run the 10K on May 25 during the Ottawa Race Weekend.

5)     Set other (3 to 5) objectives related to my goal by June 30 for the last 6 months of the year.


Tactics to help achieve Objective 1:

–        Plan weekly meals each Sunday to minimize the chances of cooking last minute unhealthy food or ordering restaurant food.

–        Bring homemade lunches at work (prepare them the night before).

–        No snacking after supper.

–        Do a lot of exercise.

Tactics to help achieve Objective 2:

–        Avoid having cold beers in the fridge from Sunday to Thursday, that way it will be less tempting to have a cold one after work.

Tactics to help achieve Objective 3 and 4:

–        Use and take advantage of our brand new Octane Fitness Q35c elliptical machine.

–        Vary the exercise to not get bored and make it fun.

–        Create a playlist of music to listen to during training.

Tactics to help achieve Objective 5:

–        Establish similar or different objectives that will continue to support the achievement of my goal.

By Alain Boudreau

Twitter: @ALBoudreau


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5 thoughts on “Goals vs. Objectives vs. Strategies vs. Tactics

  1. Leroux, Sylvie January 8, 2013 at 4:30 am Reply

    J’aime bien ton raisonnement! Ca fait du sens. Merci.

  2. Luis May 21, 2013 at 3:41 pm Reply

    This is a good explanation, and the example is simple to understand. Can I share it with my team?

    • Alain Boudreau May 21, 2013 at 7:22 pm Reply

      Thanks Luis. Yes, absolutely, feel free to share with your team.

  3. Jack August 5, 2013 at 12:05 am Reply

    Is mission the same as goal?

    • Alain Boudreau October 21, 2013 at 12:41 am Reply

      A mission is bigger than goals. It’s huge in its own sense, very vague, long-term, oriented towards a end result. It focuses on what you want to be.

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