Monday, January 12, 2009

Goals and Aims

I read a lot, and especially read lots of blogs, quite a few of which are about productivity, and, when you read about productivity, you read a lot about goals.

Most of what I read about goal setting is confined to short-term and concrete goals. A few posts venture into the territory of larger life goals.

But, I don't think of my big-picture goals as goals at all. I think about them as aims.

When you shoot an arrow, you aim it, so that it goes in a certain direction.

On a different topic, but one that is related to this post, I enjoy anagrams. Often, when I think about words and the meanings of words, I flip the letters around and around in my mind. So, in one of those processes, I noticed this:

The word "goal", if you monkey with the letters, is: "a log". Something heavy. However, if there's a spark, a log can sustain a fire.

And the word aim: "I am". Something big picture, complete, beyond the short term. The spark behind the fire.

There's a lot of emphasis, in this culture, on goals. There's not a whole lot of emphasis on aims. Goals should be a means to an end, I think. But the end, the aim, is not a concrete end-point, but rather a path.

I'm going to leave this pondering open ended, for now.

How about you out there? Are you a determined goal setter and list maker? Do you think there's a difference between "goals" and "aims"? Or, am I just splitting hairs and thinking too much?


  1. Great! I have never been goal oriented! I have always been direction oriented. It's amazing all the goals you can reach with this attitude. I like it!!

  2. Dr. J.,

    Thank you! I've got to tell you, I'm very encouraged by your comment. I frequently have contemplations like the "goal-aim" one bopping around in my mind, but it's the kind of thing I wasn't sure anyone could relate to. Anyway, I'm glad you can and do.