Three Types of Goals You Should Think About

Jason Arnold

May 31, 2018

 Different types of goals help your company achieve different levels of success. Goal setting isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Goals depend on the context of the business initiative you’re trying to achieve. While all goals should have time elements, some will take longer than others to pursue. Great organizations encourage leaders at all levels of an organization to set long-term, agile, and performance-focused goals to improve efficiency, engagement, and bottom line business results.

Long-term Goals

A long-term goal defines a success point in the future -- potentially months or even years down the road. Long-term goals include objectives for life, career, education, and more. They require you to plan and allot time for their accomplishment, which includes setting a series of short-term goals or milestones that serve as road markers along the journey to the final destination of the long-term goal. Large long-term goals will not reach completion unless you define a way to break them down into manageable stages of progress. When President Kennedy defined aspirations of landing men on the moon by the end of a decade, he established a decade long goal. Immediately, his team, and the men and women at NASA, began breaking that goal down into manageable outcomes that required completion before moving on to the next stage of getting a man to the moon. Long-term goals allow individuals and organizations to develop a broad view of the important outcomes hoped to be achieved, individually and collectively. Without long-term goals, you may fall victim to the urgency of present needs, enslaving you to a constant state of reactionary decision-making, rather than a proactive steady progress toward the future.

Agile Goals

Agile goals are rooted in the lean, agile movements of the technology revolution. Agile goals describe a set of values and a process of achieving outcomes that evolve through small cycles of collaboration with in-tact or cross-functional teams. Agile goals allow individuals or teams to break down the long-term goals into a roadmap of shorter, typically two week “sprints” of actionable activities that have a clear objective to be completed. For example, in the software world, developers create daily and weekly process checks along the way to conduct quality checks, test, demo, and adjustment or refinement of the project to suit customer needs and company goals. Agile goals with shorter cycles and achievable results accumulate into a larger ongoing objective. They are designed with an inherent sense of urgency that drives a team to produce results quickly and collaboratively while continually making adjustments and improvements. .

Performance Goals

Performance goals are rooted in current events and are designed to measure, analyze and improve over time. These goals can include achievements in education, problem-solving, and professional scenarios that clearly demonstrate some type of forward, measurable, progress. They often result because of your position regarding a particular outcome, such as completing specific projects or training a designated number of employees on a new process. They often iterate according to what is happening, like stretch goals in a fundraising campaign. These motivate your supporters to continue finding support and give you the extra steam you need to make it to the end of a project.

Along the way, you should constantly evaluate these goals for their effectiveness or completion. Varying the types of performance goals you set for yourself allows you to be more well-rounded, flexible, and innovative. These goals need to be merged with your performance, allowing you to improve your work over time. As a leader, setting performance goals for those assigned under you gives you a means to measure their work, allowing for quantitative recognition and qualitative evaluation.


Whether you and your organization are thinking long term or need to achieve urgent objectives, high performing organizations take the time to clarify and agree on key business initiatives, then set goals in place that address what you’re trying to achieve. Defining your goals eliminates confusion and increases individual and organizational performance. Make use of the SMART goal process to guarantee your team has specific, motivating, attainable, relevant, and trackable goals that set everyone on the path to success.

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