Difference Between Aim and Goal (With Table)

Life is unpredictable. Still, we tend to plan out certain things to give a direction to our lives. This is where the terms aim and goal come into the picture. Everyone has certain aims they strive for and goals to achieve. People generally perceive them to be the same, but they have noticeable differences.

Aim vs Goal

The main difference between aim and goal is that aim is something that a person wishes or aspire to do. It is a long term purpose and not a specific target. On the other hand, a goal is a benchmark or desired outcome that one wishes to attain.

An aim is a motive or purpose one wishes to fulfil. It is general in approach and accommodates a wide spectrum of rationale. It is directive in nature as it helps in determining the trajectory of a plan towards a goal. Furthermore, it is a long term strategy for fulfiling an intention.

A goal is target-specific in nature. It is a milestone decided by a person for the fulfilment of an aim. It is less descriptive of the process followed for its achievement, rather it is more about the ultimate result. Its duration can be both short and extended.

Comparison Table Between Aim and Goal

Parameters of ComparisonAimGoal
DefinitionIt is something one wishes to achieve(the purpose behind an action.)It is a result or specific target that someone wishes to achieve.
NatureExtensive in nature. It highlights the intent and not a particular outcome.Target specific and highly rigid.
ApproachWider approach and represent a bigger viewpoint.The narrowed vision of a particular accomplishment that has to be acquired.
DurationCommonly, long termCan be long term or short term.
OutlookDirective(of a course).Particular(about the desired upshot).
ExampleDoing social service and welfare work.Becoming an IAS officer.

What is Aim?

An aim is a basic idea behind a particular action. It yearns to attain a motive. It is a broad set of visions. Normally, it is long term agenda that has no definite deadline. It can be understood as the core of a goal. It lays down the basic principles to be followed for the success of an action.

Likewise, it can be understood better with help of an example. Schools provide education, but the basic purpose behind educating young minds is to inculcate moral values and teach them the living standards of society. So making them better and more responsible people is the aim of education.

It is quite evident that it is not a short term or momentary idea that is to be attained. It is a time-consuming process with no specific time limit. It can be broken down into several parts for ultimate accomplishment. It provides an answer to“ why” someone has taken a particular action rather than justifying “what” action.

It is very broad in the sense that it gives a basic understanding but not a solid definition. For example, the aim can be to instil moral values but it will not exactly specify what values or how. It can help in determining the way towards the ideal.

What is Goal?

Goals are the targets one wishes to hit. It is precise and is considered to be a subgroup of aim. One can attain an aim after successfully achieving a goal. It cannot be directly regulated as it is the final outcome. It does not focus on the process followed. The steps taken to acquire a goal are called objectives. They are highly specific and have time constraints.

An example of a goal is to become a government official. It is specified what a person wants to achieve. Other examples can be becoming a businessman, scoring a century in a cricket match etc. Several goals like these, combined, help in attaining the aim. There is no exact course of time set for a goal.

Main Differences Between Aim and Goal

  1. An aim is a motive behind something a person wants to achieve whereas a goal is a touchstone.
  2. The former is extensive whereas the latter is specific.
  3. An aim is mainly long term and a goal can be short or long term.
  4. An aim is broader in sense. On the other hand, a goal is a subdivision of aim, which is narrowed down to a particular point.
  5. Aim answers “why” something has to be accomplished or done. Goal answers “what” someone wants to acquire.
  6. The aim is directive in nature and goals are the destination.


Both the terms, aim and goal, are correlated. Still, they have a significant amount of difference. Be it an interview or resume, these two create a state of confusion as they are seemingly synonymous. So to break it down into simple terms:These two give a direction to life. Wishing to acquire something requires structured planning.

A person has a thought process behind his actions and is willing to hit the target. This is where a fine line is drawn between both terms. The purpose of doing something is what we aim for and meeting a benchmark that we set in the course is called a goal. They cannot be controlled directly.

The timing is not well-defined for any of the two, but, as a general overview, the aim is a long-lasting ideal whereas the goal can be short term or stretching over an extended period. There are certain objectives to follow for advancing towards the goal.

The aim is the bigger picture whereas a goal is a short portion of it. The pair is a much-needed combination for things to fall in the right place. They are equally vital for a successful life. These grammatically different terms are dynamic and cannot be accommodated into one definition. Their use and interpretation rely on the scenario.


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1746-8361.2011.01270.x
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272696302000876