Goals, Targets, Objectives and To-Do lists

A lot of people think about goals, targets and objectives when they want to ‘get productive’. The challenge though is to understand how these hang together, and how the understanding of one strategic intent can help you to deliver a focussed improvement.

At the top of the page, we need to think about what our purpose is. This purpose is what I term an objective. It could be that you want to grow your business, or that you want to get fitter. An objective by itself is of little value apart from helping in the understanding of the topic of improvement. It is when we start looking at the Goal or target that this gets a bit more interesting. We can consider how we can define a goal or target in a SMARTER way. Remember Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Risky, Timebound, Exciting and Relevant. When we do this, we start to think about the elements of how we are going to achieve this objective.

We now dig further into understanding HOW we are going to achieve the Goal or Target.


We may have set a goal that we want to grow our business revenue by 20% in the next 3 months.

  • A suitable to-do would be to contact 5 potential clients a day that could help increase the revenue or
  • to increase your brand awareness by posting twice a day on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok etc.

We think of the large outcomes (Objectives) first, then break it down into smaller chunks (Goals / Targets) to help us achieve them (To-do).

We can now understand the connection between Objectives and To-Do lists. Practically though, how can we build a system that helps us to stay on track? There are many ‘systems’ out in the market place. My go-to at the moment is the Full Focus Planner by Michael Hyatt. It allows you to think about your Annual Goals and then break these down further into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily big goals. There is a lot more in it than I have described. Think about the process that you get into. Think about the way that you can use your existing accepted systems to get more streamlined in your thinking.

What does this mean to a client? Recently, I was working through targets and to-dos with a client. On two sheets of paper, we drew a grid. The top of the grid representing the objective (or strategic focus/intent), and in the column underneath the goals that were needed to achieve the objective. We then moved onto sheet 2 where the headings were the goals – and the to-dos or the how am I going to achieve it being in the columns underneath.

A simple model but we often forget about these basics.