Most of us have long lists of goals we want to accomplish, forcing us to make tough decisions about what to pursue now and what to pursue later.
An important consideration when determining which to pursue now (in other words: good goal management) is considering the effect of goals upon each other.
In particular, we want to create synergies and avoid conflicts.
Goal synergy occurs when two or more goals have an effect greater than the sum of their parts.
In other words: If at all possible, pursue these goals concurrently so you reap the benefits.
Goal conflict occurs when two or more goals have an effect less than the sum of their parts.
In other words: If at all possible, it makes sense to avoid pursuing these goals concurrently. Pursue one first, and then the other down the road.
How Goals Conflict
Sometimes goals draw on the same resources, taxing our productivity system. Example: trying to start two entirely-unrelated, complex businesses.
Other times, progress towards one goal hurts progress towards another. Example: trying to train for a marathon (which involves burning substantial amounts of calories) and trying to train for a bodybuilding competition (which involves consuming substantial amounts of calories.)
These are obvious examples of conflict. Is it always so obvious?
No. These are extreme examples.
Goals conflict in myriad, often subtle ways. And mental models shield many from us too.
The conflict might be obvious, it might not. But the only way to avoid or mitigate goal conflict is to look for it.