AskDefine | Define goal

Dictionary Definition



1 the state of affairs that a plan is intended to achieve and that (when achieved) terminates behavior intended to achieve it; "the ends justify the means" [syn: end]
2 a successful attempt at scoring; "the winning goal came with less than a minute left to play"
3 game equipment consisting of the place toward which players of a game try to advance a ball or puck in order to score points
4 the place designated as the end (as of a race or journey); "a crowd assembled at the finish"; "he was nearly exhuasted as their destination came into view" [syn: finish, destination]

User Contributed Dictionary



Middle English gol, “boundary”.



  1. A result one is attempting to achieve.
  2. In many sports, an area into which the players attempt to put an object.
  3. The act of placing the object into the goal.
  4. point(s) scored in a game as a result of placing the object into the goal.



result one is attempting to achieve
in many sports, an area into which the players attempt to put an object
act of placing the object into the goal
point(s) scored



English goal.



goal (plural: goals)

Extensive Definition

A goal or objective consists of a projected state of affairs which a person or a system plans or intends to achieve or bring about — a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development. Many people endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines.
A desire or an intention becomes a goal if and only if one activates an action for achieving it (see goal-oriented).
It is roughly similar to purpose or aim, the anticipated result which guides action, or and end, which is an object, either a physical object or an abstract object, that has intrinsic value.

Goal and types of goals

component of personal-development literature.

Short-term goals

Short-term goals expect accomplishment in a short period of time, such as trying to get a bill paid in the next few days. The definition of a short-term goal need not relate to any specific length of time. In other words, one may achieve (or fail to achieve) a short-term goal in a day, week, month, year, etc. The time-frame for a short-term goal relates to its context in the overall timeline that it is being applied to. For instance, one could measure a short-term goal for a month-long project in days; whereas one might measure a short-term goal for someone’s life in months or in years. Planners usually define short-term goals in relation to a long-term goal or goals.

Project goals

Goal-setters may make goals/objectives more explicit by following the guidelines associated with the SMART acronym:
  • Specific: one should precisely define objectives or goals rather than tolerating diffuseness or nebulousness
  • Measurable: one should define a method of measuring the objectives/goals
  • Agreed-To/Achievable: all parties need to agree to the objectives/goals, and to their achievability
  • Realistic/Rewarding/Relevant: one must define realistic objectives/goals, the accomplishment of which must make sense
  • Time-bound: completion must occur within an agreed time-scale

Personal goals

Individuals can have personal goals. A student may set a goal of a high mark in an exam. An athlete might walk five miles a day. A traveler might try to reach a destination-city within three hours.
Managing goals can give returns in all areas of personal life. Knowing precisely what one wants to achieve makes clear what to concentrate and improve on.
Goal setting and planning ("goalwork") promotes long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses acquisition of knowledge and helps to organize resources.
Efficient goalwork includes recognizing and resolving any guilt, inner conflict or limiting belief that might cause one to sabotage one's efforts. By setting clearly-defined goals, one can subsequently measure and take pride in the achievement of those goals. One can see progress in what might have seemed a long grind.
Cultural attitudes to the desirability and efficacy of personal goals may differ. For example, the idea of personal goals may clash with the trend of eliminating/transcending the personal self in some forms of Buddhist thought.

Achieving personal goals

Achieving complex and difficult goals requires focus, long-term diligence and effort. Success in any field will require foregoing blaming, excuses and justifications for poor performance or lack of adequate planning; in short, success requires emotional maturity. The measure of belief that people in their ability to achieve a personal goal also affects that achievement.
Long term achievements rely on short-term achievements. Emotional control over the small moments of the single day makes a big difference in the long term.
By accepting a degree of realism within one's own goals, one allows oneself not to change reality to match one's own dreams by one's own efforts alone, but to accept how it is until a certain degree. This degree of "laziness" can prevent one from falling into unhappiness by losing too much control of life by trying to specialize in a very small area and to become a top leader in that field. No matter what level of a layerered society one may identify with, it is very likely that one will keep the above and below scheme.
On the other side, to put up personal goals does not necessarily mean merely to put up goals for one's own best. One does not need to put personal and non-personal in a binary opposition as in egoistic/altruistic, body/mind, cultural/natural etc. One may say that there are elements in the making and realising personal goals that necessarily are transpersonal. In the interzone of the personal and transpersonal, the personal but also culturally dependent judgements of tastes and values will be challenged, and probably changed. In such personal processes, that might be termed "crisis", which often occurs in the processes of achieving personal goals, the hierarchised up-and-down, better-or-worse scheme can be altered.
One formula for achievement reads A=IM where A = achievement, I = intelligence, and M = motivation. When motivation equals zero, achievement will always equal zero, no matter the degree of intelligence. Similarly for intelligence: if intelligence equals zero, achievement will always equal zero. The higher the combination of both intelligence and the motivation, the higher the achievement.

Goal-management in organizations

Organizationally, goal management consists of the process of recognizing or inferring goals of individual team-members, abandoning no longer relevant goals, identifying and resolving conflicts among goals, and prioritizing goals consistently for optimal team-collaboration and effective operations.
For any successful commercial system, it means deriving profits by making the best quality of goods or the best quality of services available to the end-user (customer) at the best possible cost. Goal-management includes:
  • assessment and dissolution of non-rational blocks to success
  • time-management
  • frequent reconsideration (consistency checks)
  • feasibility checks
  • adjusting milestones and main-goal targets
Morten Lind and J.Rasmussen distinguish three fundamental categories of goals related to technological system management:
  1. production goal
  2. safety goal
  3. economy goal
An organizational goal-management solution ensures that individual employee goals and objectives align with the vision and strategic goals of the entire organization. Goal-management provides organizations with a mechanism to effectively communicate corporate goals and strategic objectives to each person across the entire organization. The key consists of having it all emanate from a pivotal source and providing each person with a clear, consistent organizational-goal message. With goal-management, every employee will understand how his or her efforts contribute to the success of an enterprise.
An example of goal types in business management:
  • consumer goals: this refers to supplying a product or service that the market/consumer wants
  • product goals: this refers to supplying a product outstanding compared to other products — perhaps due to the likes of quality, design, reliability and novelty
  • operational goals: this refers to running the organization in such a way as to make the best use of management-skills, technology and resources.
  • secondary goals: this refers to goals which an organization does not regard as priorities


  • Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Jeff Cox. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement. ISBN 0-88427-061-0

See also

goal in German: Ziel
goal in Lithuanian: Tikslas
goal in Portuguese: Meta
goal in Russian: Цель
goal in Yiddish: ציל

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Z, aim, ambition, anchorage, apodosis, aspiration, basis, bourn, butt, by-end, by-purpose, calling, catastrophe, cause, ceasing, cessation, coda, conclusion, consideration, consummation, crack of doom, culmination, curtain, curtains, death, decease, denouement, destination, destiny, doom, duty, effect, end, end in view, end point, ending, envoi, epilogue, eschatology, expiration, fate, final cause, final solution, final twitch, final words, finale, finality, finis, finish, function, game, grand slam, ground, guiding light, guiding star, harbor, haven, hit, hole, hole in one, home run, homer, ideal, inspiration, intention, izzard, last, last breath, last gasp, last stop, last things, last trumpet, last words, latter end, lodestar, mainspring, mark, matter, motive, object, object in mind, objective, omega, payoff, period, peroration, port, prey, principle, purpose, pursuit, quarry, quietus, quintain, reason, reason for being, resolution, resting place, sake, score, slam, source, spring, stop, stoppage, stopping place, strike, swan song, target, teleology, term, terminal, terminal point, termination, terminus, touchdown, ulterior motive, ultimate aim, use, vocation, windup
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