Some would say that goals, strategy, and tactics are a matter of semantics. Seth Godin would disagree. These are some of his thoughts on the difference between them that you might find interesting if you’re building a brand. It helped me put things in perspective, especially after I visualized them. So, I figured it’s worth sharing.  

Your goal is the change you want to make in the world. It’s a shining, unwavering light pointing towards the destination of your work. Your strategy is the steady path you decide to travel to reach your goal. Your tactics are the dozens or hundreds of steps you’ll take while following your strategy. 

You might change your strategy if it fails, but you don’t want to do that often. If tactics fail, that’s ok, there are many other things you can try to make your strategy successful. Or as the popular expression goes, ‘many roads lead to Rome’. 

Let’s see how this plays on a popular, though perhaps by now a somewhat controversial brand, Coca-Cola.

“For generations, Coca-Cola had a simple goal: get more people to drink Coke. Their strategy was to run an enormous number of ads to persuade the mass market that Coke was part of the culture that made them happy - and that everyone else was drinking it too. And the ads kept changing because the content of the ad was a tactic.” 
- Seth Godin, 'This is Marketing'

How about you: do you have a clear goal and do you have a strategy to get there? Or are you trying out a bunch of unrelated things and getting frustrated when they don’t pay off? 

I used to get lost in millions of actions, feeling I was not moving forward. I would justify it to myself as being on the journey to Ithaka. If you’re about to look it up because you need an excuse for playing a tactic game of life without a clear goal...don’t! At least, give this little exercise a chance first. 

Imagine a world without any of the problems that are holding you back from making the most of your career. Imagine you had unlimited time and resources to do whatever you want. Look past ‘nothing’, ‘enjoy my free time traveling', or all your inner screaming for some peace, and quiet. 

You are a rabbit-like entrepreneur. Sure you need rest from time to time, but your inability to run can cause you actual physical pain. And if I know you, I would give you a maximum of one year of enjoying your post-jackpot freedom, before the urge awakens to do 'something' with your life. What is that? 

Where am I going with this? 

You are a smart person. Don’t build a brand without a strategy. And don’t think about strategy before you decide where you’re going. And if your strategy needs you to change your tactics 5 times to get to that dot, that’s ok! 

It might even be that you need to build 5 different companies. Focus on building the first, but do it right. If it takes you just one mile further towards the sun, it’s an investment worth making. 

But as much as you might love the sea, if your journey is through high mountains, you might want to get off the boat now!