The Difference Between a Project and a Goal.
A question I am frequently asked is, what is the difference between a project and a goal? On the surface, they are very similar. They both have a clear outcome to accomplish by a specific date and several actions to be performed to achieve them.
However, the difference is what happens once the project or goal is achieved. Goals are about changing you as a person for the better. They are about improvement and moving toward a higher purpose. Often the actual outcome of a goal is to change a behaviour or way of life.
Projects differ because they are not necessarily designed to change your life and are often done for other people. For instance, your work projects rarely benefit you directly. Instead, they help your clients or customers and your boss, but completing the project is just something you are expected to do as part of your work.
Goals, on the other hand, do directly benefit you. Your goals can be related to work. For example, you might have a goal to be promoted by the end of next year or hit your targets to get your full bonus entitlement.
Unfortunately, if your goals do not have a higher purpose, your feeling of accomplishment will not last. How did you feel when you last successfully achieved a goal? Happy? Ecstatic? How long did you feel like that? A few days? A few hours? Minutes?
The problem with achieving a goal is that the satisfaction that comes from achieving goals is short-lived. All goals, by their very nature, are just one step towards a higher purpose. For instance, losing weight is about becoming healthier. If you lose ten pounds and regain the ten pounds within a few weeks, you complete a project. However, you did not achieve a goal. A goal would be to keep those ten pounds off or go further and lose another ten pounds.
Let me give you another example. Each year I set my company an income goal. This is a goal because the purpose here is to establish a new standard. The overarching goal is to continue to grow and improve my company. So, ultimately, the goal of the company is for constant and never-ending growth. However, each year I need to set a new goal to accomplish to achieve that. Thus, the goal becomes a vehicle that drives me towards continuous growth.
By pushing the goal further each year, the company grows, I get to help more people while at the same time I improve as a teacher — after all, for my company to grow, I have to improve as a teacher. So to help more people become better organised and more productive, I have to improve my skills.
You can see there that the goal is one part of a much bigger purpose. The feeling I get when I help someone is immeasurable. You cannot beat that feeling, and so my goals are all connected to that ultimate purpose.
When someone tells you their goal is to earn a lot of money, earning money might be something measurable, but really what people want is what they think money will bring. A nice car? And a nice home? Well, again, it’s not the car or the home they want; it’s the feeling they think a nice car or a nice home will give them. That’s the ultimate goal.
Now the problem with material things is they never bring you the feeling you think they will. Nice houses and cars don’t impress people as much as you think. But if the goal is to put yourself in a position of financial security to have the freedom to do the things you want to do, you are setting the right kind of goals.
I remember watching a Jim Rohn seminar on YouTube in which he said you should set the goal to become a millionaire, not for the money, but for who you have to become to achieve that goal.
To become a millionaire, you must change your mindset and your habits. Most people limit themselves because they believe their income is set by the company they work for. And in the past, if you chose to be an employee, that was likely true. The only way for anyone to become a millionaire twenty years ago was to start their own business. Today that is not true. We have unlimited opportunities to build side-incomes. For example, creating online courses or a YouTube channel. Even writing blog posts now can earn you income through sites like Medium.
But, to do that, you need to break free of your nine til five mindset. You will need to change your thinking from consuming entertainment to consuming education. Learning, growing and being obsessed with generating income. That’s how you become a millionaire. You learn that if you spend every evening going out with your friends or watching Netflix, you will not change anything. You will stay stuck where you are.
If you spend your evenings on your side project — write, produce videos, sell products through Amazon or eBay — you put yourself in a position where becoming a millionaire becomes possible.
Back when I was in my early 20s, I worked in our local pub as a bartender. One of the regulars was a gentleman called Albert. Albert had been a millionaire three times and lost it three times. I remember talking with Albert one quiet Monday evening, and he told me making the first million is the hardest thing you will ever do. But once you have achieved your first million, earning a million a year is easy.
I didn’t understand what he meant back then, but over the years, I’ve realised that once you know the mindset and develop the skills to earn your first million if you ever lose it, you don’t need to worry. You know what it takes to become a millionaire, and you can repeat the process over and over again.
The key to understanding goals is knowing the goal is less important than the changes you have to make to achieve that goal.
A project is static; it does not move. Once you complete the project, it’s over. You archive the project and move on to the next project. A goal is fluid; it moves with you. As you improve your abilities, develop new skills, strengthen weak areas, you, as an individual, are improving. When you complete the goal, the question becomes, what next? How can you continue to grow and improve?
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My purpose is to help as many people as I can live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.
If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.