The Easy Way to Determine if You Need Resolutions or Goals

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As the New Year approaches, and we’re caught up thinking about where we’ll spend New Year’s Eve, or that party that we may or may not want to attend, one thing will ALWAYS be brought to the forefront of our brains (usually thanks to the media): New Year’s Resolutions. Some of us love them, some of us hate them. But the bigger question becomes: Which should I be using? Resolutions or goals?

 

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I have a love/hate relationship with resolutions. I love them because it feels like everybody is in on the motivation; It’s contagious. But I hate them because I always feel like so much was going on in November and December that I didn’t have time to fully prepare myself for these theoretical standards up on that pedestal. And once I’m halfway into January floundering around, I already feel like a failure. It’s very discouraging. So much pressure!!

For that reason, the last few years I’ve really begun to focus on true Goal Setting instead. I mean, you can only try a certain thing and fail so many times before you HAVE to try something new, right? Which is why I’ve turned to goal setting as my fallback for it all lately.

But the thing is, I don’t totally dislike resolutions, and here’s why:

 

Resolutions, by definition of dictionary.com, are:

2. the act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc.

3. a resolvea decision or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something.

Her resolution to clear her parents’ name allowed her no other focus in life.

4. the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolutefirmness of purpose:

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She showed her resolution by not attending the meeting.
 
There’s no real roadmap or well-defined plan. It’s a statement of intent. But for it to be a real resolution I suppose you have to follow through on it.
 
Goals, on the other hand, do (or should) have the road map and defined step-by-step  plan.
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So what’s the big diff and which should I use? Resolutions or Goals??

Honestly, I think that every goal must start out as a resolution. The difference here is that you have to determine if your resolution then needs that road-map to achieve it.
For example, if my resolution is to eat healthier this year, it’s an ongoing challenge every day. Sure I need to figure out a few ways to get around the challenges of it. But it’s the same frame of mind and action that I’m committing to every day.
A goal has an end-point to which you’ve accomplished a specific thing. And that end-point must have an entire set of broken down tasks to get to that end-point.
For example, if my resolution starts out as ‘I’m gonna lose those last 10 pounds by March 1’, I’ve got to have some benchmarks and strategies to know that I’m making progress to that end goal. Just saying every day that I need to eat better and workout won’t show me any progress. It may get you there, but how will you know until you hit that specific date? You really need those specified benchmarks and dates set for each. At that point, you can reassess if what you’re doing is working or if you need to change it up.

{Check out this 5-part series about SMART Goal Setting to get started and get your FREE SMART Goals Workbook to map out your personal goals!}

To figure out which you need–goals or resolutions– just determine if your resolution needs that broken down road-map to achieve it: If it does, at that point you’ll move into creating your goal-setting actions. If not, maybe set a reminder on your phone every morning to have your resolution greet you when you wake. Resolutions don’t really ever end. They’re an every day thing you intend to do to make your life better. Think: general health, being kind, donating this year to a local charity.
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The second part to the question: Resolutions or Goals? is usually regarding the areas of life in which they’re being applied. Finances and health are usually the most common. Don’t make it harder on yourself than it has to be. If you’re starting with a resolution like, ‘I’m going to donate to the local kids’ charity this year,’ determine if this is a monthly thing you want to do, or just a one-time thing. What amount do you want to donate? A flat amount or percent of your paycheck? If it’s a flat amount, and you have the amount, just figure out a date you want to do it. If the amount you want to donate won’t be in your account until a certain date and you have to save for it, you’re writing down a specific amount of money that you’re putting aside every month to lead up to an end-goal. (See where this is going? It’s moving from the Resolution definition to the Goal definition, because you have little steps you’re having to take.)
If you think you need to set a goal to ‘Be more kind everyday’, is this something you’re going to keep track of? Do you journal about it? Or do you keep hard notes? It becomes a goal when you want to set a certain amount of times and/or a deadline. If you just want to reframe your state of mind in general and be more kind on a daily basis–even if it means a mental ‘check’ when you’ve done it every day–that stays more of a resolution. You’re resolving to do this thing every day…no real end date in sight.
All it takes is a little thought to figure out how detailed you need to be in your resolutions or goals to figure out which category your intentions belong in.

Easy enough? Heck, yeah! Now go forth and brainstorm those goals or resolutions!

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