The Difference Between Resolutions and Goals

I am not making any New Year’s resolutions this year.  What’s the point?  I never keep them anyway.  Resolving to do something always seems like a good idea at the time, but in practice is very hard for me to follow through on.  Instead, I am going to make goals.  Or set goals, rather.  Making goals sound like I am going to be a soccer player, which I am not.

So what’s the difference between a resolution and a goal?  Well, I will start by saying that goals have an endpoint.  They are measurable and your progress is trackable.  Goals are way better for me than resolutions.  Resolutions are like half-formed plans with no visualized outcome.  At least mine are.  I can either resolve to lose weight and get in shape this year, or I can set a goal to lose twenty pounds by Thanksgiving, at which point I will gain it all back.  For me, the goal is better.

Of course resolutions can be goals.  I could resolve to lose twenty pounds by Thanksgiving and then eat pie for a week, so perhaps resolutions are okay, as long as they are goal-oriented.  Really a resolution is just a decision to do something, and I decide to do stuff all the time.  Perhaps my New Year’s resolution then is to make resolutions that are not so nebulous.

BAD RESOLUTION: I will manage my money better
GOAL-ORIENTED RESOLUTION: I will pay off half of my debt and contribute to my 401K.

BAD RESOLUTION: I will be closer to my family
GOAL-ORIENTED RESOLUTION: I will call my mother once a week, whether she needs it or not.

BAD RESOLUTION: I will eat fewer sweets
GOAL-ORIENTED RESOLUTION: I will limit myself to one sweet a day, and if I eat a second one I will hire a brutish thug to punch me really hard in the arm.

So maybe resolutions don’t have to be so hard and easily broken.  The real difference between resolutions and goals is that goals are a concrete idea of where you want to end up and resolutions are your promise to get there.  My advice to all of you for the coming year is to have an idea of where you want to go, and then map out the way to get there.  It’s easy to say that you want to exercise more, but without solid ideas on how that is going to happen (walking to work, joining a gym with a friend that will make you actually go to the gym, acquiring a young child that you have to endlessly chase because it does not want to go to bed), your fitness goals may end up in the pile with all the other failed resolutions that somehow never happened.  So set your goals, make your resolutions, and Happy New Year!

Posted in New Year, Resolutions.

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