TM4T - Time Management Basics 5: Goals vs Objectives

OK, the waffle is all done, the long-term goals, the personal audits and consideration of values.  Now you need to be crystal clear on what your medium term objectives are. These need to be concrete and achievable. Some use a variation of SMART to assess objectives.

A surprising number of school leaders get the SMART acronym wrong, so for clarity it is either 'specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based' or 'specific, measurable, appropriate, realistic, time-based'.

However, SMART isn't really enough: your objectives also need to be flexible ('cos things change) and pleasurable (or at least positive). Some teachers get goals and objectives mixed up, which is pretty much a recipe for failure. Goals are long-term (5-10 years away) and kind-of-abstract, and achievable in many different ways. Objectives are medium term (6 months to 2 years) and specific.  There is one other major difference: goals are yours alone, and you may choose to share them - or not. Objectives, on the other hand, should be public knowledge, unless there is some competitive reason to keep them secret.

Here is an Example:

Goal: to make a difference possibly by leading a school as well as teaching
Objective: to get promoted to department head within two years.

Now... one of the things you may notice (though you may have assumed that it was just unusually lazy writing from TM4T) is that the Goal is expressed in a pretty woolly, kind of ungainly way "to make a difference possibly by leading a school". This is absolutely fine. As long as YOU understand your goals, it doesn't matter if there are grey, overlapping or ill-defined areas. Your objectives, on the other hand, must be crystal clear; you may not choose to share them with others, but if you did, they would understand them; no question.