What's The Difference Between An Aspiration And A Goal?

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@MonacoMonkey and Poets&Quants got me thinking and I wanted to hop on this wave.

What do you guys consider the difference between a goal, and an aspiration?

To me, a goal is something that you are working towards. Likewise, an aspiration is more of a wish that you plan to one day work towards, but aren't quite ready to start on yet - for whatever reason (i.e missing the prerequisite of knowledge to move forward with your aspiration.)

What are your thoughts?

Comments (6)

Apr 14, 2018

Well, you surely took away the most popular separation between the 2 terms yourself but i would add that an aspiration is kind of the mature version of a childish dream. Something which is - different from the early idea of becoming a firefighter or beauty queen - always somewhere in the back of your head and the goals/opportunities you are trying to reach are always going to be checked - one way or another - with/against your aspirations. Does not mean that your current goals at a given time can't win against such more undefined long-term ideas - most people are able to compromise against themselves. The best way would be to reach your goals in a way which in the end brings you closer to your aspiration...i assume people who have surpassed most of their goals also got the aspiration part after all. ;)

Apr 15, 2018

An aspiration is in essence what drives you, your heart, your passion towards something that leads to a goal.

ie. I aspire to break the NYC 5th Avenue mile in under 5min in September. The goal is crossing the finish line at 4:59 or less.

In Chinese, the character for aspire, actually contains the character for 'heart' (Xin - xin) in the bottom of the aspire character, "zhi" (Zhi ). Heart is the passion, the drive that you have to accomplish a goal. Therefore it is proper that it makes up the full character "zhi" (Zhi ).

It is not "something you aren't quite ready to start on yet." To use a quasi-synonym, 'hope' for the word aspire, you could be sitting in a rocking chair and have a first thought, "I hope to become an astronaut." Maybe you are 16. Then you enter the Navy and continue to say, "I hope to become an Astronaut." or "I aspire to become an Astronaut." Then, you get your pilot wings and continue to say, "I hope to become an Astronaut." You may become an Astronaut one day, but throughout the process before meeting your goal, the aspiration to become an Astronaut is there the whole way. You very well could sit on that chair at 16 and aspire to become an Astronaut and never actually do anything, but to aspire to be something doesn't mean that you are not doing anything. It captures the thought, drive and passion to do something whether you have started the process of getting there or not.

Edit: The site auto corrected the pinyin accents and took out the chinese characters so here are what the characters look like:

Aspiration (zhi)
Heart (xin)

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Apr 15, 2018

An aspiration is a hope or ambition to achieve something. A goal is the desired result.

Really though, as long as you're actively working toward an objective, "thought pieces" on which word you're using aren't really that important.

Apr 15, 2018

Goal = something you want to accomplish
Aspiration = the person you want to be

Best Response
Apr 15, 2018

A goal is something that has a specific time to complete and specific action plan to complete it. Aspirations can be a set of goals on the way to accomplishing something.

Kid who's 8 years old may have a goal to get into the college prep school for the 8th grade in a few years, in order to join a specific club, to get into Wharton, study finance, get a junior year IB internship, so that he can accomplish his lifelong aspiration of being a kick ass IB analyst.

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Apr 24, 2018