Goal vs. Vision (With Tips and Goal-Setting Techniques)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 18, 2022

Published January 3, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Goals and vision are vital for growth in life, career, and professional relationships. Although used interchangeably, goals and visions are two different parts that co-exist for a successful life. Understanding the differences between goals and vision can help you align both to ensure maximum output in your professional life. In this article, we discuss goal versus vision and their differences, outline the importance of having them, provide tips for setting effective goals and vision, and identify effective goal-setting techniques.

Goal vs. vision

When considering a goal vs. vision, it's important to understand they're interrelated as setting effective goals depends on a clear vision. Regardless, they're both different concepts, and some of these differences include:


The term goal refers to your specific aims or desired results. Goals are milestones created to help you achieve your dream. Conversely, vision is the ability to imagine and think of the future with insight. It also refers to the purpose that a person visualizes without knowing how to achieve it. A clear personal vision integrates your interests, abilities, values, personality, skills, and stages of development.


Goals are a means to an end, while visions are the endpoints themselves. For example, if your vision is to be an international brand in the next decade, it's important to set monthly, quarterly, or annual goals to help achieve your vision. This is because goals produce results that you can use to measure your progress, while your vision is your desired result.


Visions are similar to dreams that may be lofty and vague and sometimes impractical. In contrast, goals are actionable objectives that are practical and achievable. Generally, visions always remain as ideas until substantiated with goals.


Visions are limitless and can exist without boundaries. They also don't consider the reality of your situation or resources and may take a very long time to reach. Conversely, goals can be short, medium, or long-term. They can't exist in a vacuum and require the application of the resources at your disposal for you to actualize them.

Importance of setting goals

Here are some of the reasons it's important for you to have goals:

  • Awareness and openness: It gives you the awareness to take charge of aspects of your life and the openness to try new situations as you grow.

  • Inspiration: Goals encourage you by inspiring you for the short term and allowing you to focus on your vision.

  • Accountability: Having goals makes you actionable for the choices in your career, relationships, or life generally. They help you make better decisions and take an active part in your personal growth and development.

  • Life lessons: Setting goals allows you to identify mistakes, learn from them, and make transitions by applying those lessons in the future.

  • Empowerment: By setting goals, you can identify and eliminate distractions and keep yourself on track to reach your objectives.

  • To measure progress: Goals give you an idea of where you're at a particular point and allow you to track your progress to know how far you have come.

Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

Importance of having a vision

Here are some reasons why a personal vision is important:

  • Decision-making: Having a vision guides you and ensures that you make decisions related to your plans.

  • Long-term planning: Visions allow you think about the future and plan ahead of your current situation.

  • Better life balance: Having a plan can help you ensure you're developing in all aspects and gives you an avenue to plan around weaknesses to build a more balanced life.

  • Motivation: Having an idea of the kind of life or career you want to build can be a form of motivation to drive you towards realizing that dream.

Related: Examples of Personal Vision Statements to Help You Write Your Own

Tips for setting effective goals and vision

Setting goals and aligning them with plans for the future can be demanding, especially when you don't have resources or your perspective keeps changing. Here are some tips to help you plan effectively:

Be futuristic

An effective way to ensure accurate futuristic planning is to think about your five-year plan. The five-year plan essentially asks, "where do you see yourself in five years?" This technique allows you to think about the future within a limit that helps you remain time-conscious in your plan. This way, you can substantiate your long-term ideas with short-term goals.

Consider your skills

It's important to consider your values, talent, passion, and skills when building a vision. Identify the areas where your strengths lie and plan around them. Also, listing out your current skill set can help you identify what skills you may require for the future and start learning them at the earliest.

Explore new areas

When envisioning your future, it's great to dream big. Having a vision allows you to motivate yourself to become the best version of yourself. As a result, exuding confidence to explore new areas can be more productive.

Be flexible

When building your vision, ensure you create room for change and be flexible in your approach. Being flexible makes it easier for you to adjust to unforeseen circumstances or change your plan entirely, if necessary. Flexibility also entails reviewing your goals regularly. You may discover you have new priorities or opportunities that may shift you off course. It's okay to consider the new information and make changes in line with them.

Find an accountability partner

An accountability partner helps you to remain committed to your vision. They also share milestones with you and motivate you to strive for your vision. Having an accountability partner is important because you may lose the drive to work when alone. With an accountability partner, there's always somebody to motivate you to improve your performance.

Effective time management

Effective time management is a key component in achieving your goals. Besides making plans, good time management can make it easier to stick to the plan and follow through on your vision. You can consider efficient time management techniques or invest in training programs to improve your time management skills.

Be reflective

Although visions are for the future, it's important to reflect on your past and current position to understand where you are and where you're coming from as a person. This allows you to consider making necessary adjustments when building your vision. After setting your goals, being reflective is important to track your progress. It allows you to assess how far you've come, the mistakes you made, and how to improve on yourself.

Write positively

How you write your plans and goals impacts your mindset when approaching them. It's advisable to avoid using negative statements when writing but try to express them positively with solutions to problems. For example, instead of "don't worry about weekly evaluations," try writing "endeavour to reduce anxiety through meditation before the weekly evaluations."

Find a mentor

You can consider finding a senior colleague in the position you want and build a relationship with them. You may learn new techniques for setting and achieving goals. Also, mentorship is a good way to train under a successor and gain the necessary skills for filling up a position.

Effective goal-setting techniques

Here are some frameworks to help you develop and achieve goals:

SMART goals

SMART means specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. The technique allows you to focus efforts on the meaning of each word. Also, you can expand the technique to become SMARTER. The extra letters mean to evaluate and readjust your goals when necessary.

Read more: SMART Goals: Objectives for Your Career

HARD goals

HARD means heartfelt, animated, required, and difficult. The technique uses the feeling of achieving the goal as motivation for working towards it. It encourages you to connect your goals to a necessity and challenges you to set difficult and more fulfilling goals.

WOOP goals

WOOP means wish, obstacle, outcome, and plan. This technique may help you quit a habit you want to change. It encourages you to find obstacles and develop plans to help you overcome them. For instance, you can adopt this technique to help you overcome procrastination.

Micro goal technique

Instead of having a big goal, you may have a set of multiple small goals that helps you reach the seemingly large goal. Achieving smaller goals gives you a sense of fulfillment and helps you stay motivated. Additionally, they can serve as regular checks to measure your progress.

Backward goals

This technique uses your objective to help you identify how you can achieve it. Working backward can make a large goal more achievable and is helpful for those who only have an idea of what they want but aren't certain of it. This technique breaks down the future into measurable goals.

Locke and Latham's principles

This technique involves five parts to help you set effective goals and progress towards them. The principles are clarity, challenge, commitment, feedback, and task complexity. This technique is one of the most useful ways to think about goals because it focuses on finding motivation and encourage feedback on the progress made.

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