Difference Between Aim and Goal

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.

Difference 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.

Comparison 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.


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