An objective is a written statement that succinctly describes tangible actions to take that are based on a predefined motive or mission. Objectives are used by individuals and organizations. In general, individuals set objectives in regards to their career and professional pursuits. Organizations and businesses set objectives for various departments that align with the over-arching mission of the organization. Objectives are broadly stated, non-measurable, well-written statements that have no “expiration date.” Staying focused on objectives helps businesses and individuals decide which course of action to take and why.

Objectives vs. Goals vs. Mission

While an objective is not measurable, a goal is measurable. For example, an automobile manufacturer might set a goal to sell 1 million cars and set an objective to “maintain a leadership position in the auto industry.” The goal and objective would then align with the company’s mission to “sustain profitable growth by providing consumers with the best dealership experience.”

Career and Professional Objectives

Individuals set short, intermediate and long-term career and professional objectives. For example, a college senior who is about to earn her bachelor of arts degree in biology might set a short-term objective of getting an internship with a pharmaceutical company. Her intermediate objectives would include actions such as researching pharmaceutical companies that have established internship programs, contacting the campus career development office and finalizing her resume. Her long-term objective might be to sit on the board of directors for an international pharmaceutical corporation. On her resume, she would state a short-term objective to “to gain an internship experience that will prepare me to pursue a career path as a biologist with a major pharmaceutical company.”

Business Strategic Marketing Objectives

Strategic marketing objectives focus on what the company will do to sustain a competitive position in the marketplace. The components of strategic objective statements can cover areas such as product selection, price and customer service. An example of a strategic market objective for a hotel chain might be "to provide travelers with the most affordable accommodations at over 500 locations.” A company with a global marketing mission might state an objective to “become the most popular pizza chain in Russia.” A plus-size women’s clothing manufacturer might set a strategic objective to “provide plus-size women with the widest selection of contemporary styles.”

Business Operational Objectives

Operational objectives focus on the internal aspects of a business and what it will take to keep the business profitable so it maintains and increases its market share. Operational objectives focus on people, product development, inventory and distribution. For example, a soft drink manufacturer might set an operational objective to “improve turn-around time from plants to distribution centers.” A software company might set an objective to “become recognized for developing the most innovative software programs.” A fast-food chain might set an objective to “improve customer satisfaction by improving customer service training.”