Goal and resolution are two words that are often confused by many people, specially during New Year’s. At this time of year people everywhere have made, or are still making, their New Year’s resolutions. The objective of which is to attempt to make some big change(s) in their life. The problem is, most end up failing to keep their resolutions because they are actually making unrealistic goals. Goals that call for drastic changes cause most people to tackle them with an “all-or-nothing” approach—and become discouraged when they don’t achieve the results they desire instantly. Although they are similar in that they both involve making changes, goals differ from resolutions in many ways. Let’s have a look at each individually.
Dictionary.com defines the word goal as: the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end. A goal is a target that an individual desires to reach. It is the end-point at which they see themselves after a given period of time. Goals can be either short term or long term. Short term goals being ones that happen over a short amount of time, while a long term goal may often involve a life-changing decision.
Dictionary.com defines ‘resolution’ as: A decision or determination; a resolve: to make a firm resolution to do something. Or, The act determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc. Resolutions made at New Years are often decisions to live a better and healthier life. “New Year, New Me”, right? A resolution requires making long term changes and requires a major amount of effort in maintaining them. So much so that usually by the second or third week of January, the individual reverts back to old habits and resolutions are forgotten or at least ignored.
Goals and resolutions often go hand-in-hand since setting goals eventually helps in maintaining a person’s resolution. Resolutions are supposed to be long-term and are supposed to be something you keep instead of completing. Resolutions are vague. Examples of a resolution might be exercising in general, eating healthier foods, or following a good sleep habit. Making resolutions such as exercising every day or running a marathon are actually goals. It tells you what you have to do and when do you have to do it. However these often become too demanding or over reaching. Goals should be short term and specific when used with resolutions, so that when this goal is completed, another goal can be set.
Personally, I am a big fan of setting real, actionable, track-able goals. Change your practice of making resolutions for the New Year to developing an actual plan to achieve your goals. Spend some time on it. The more time and energy you put into this now, the more specific you are, the more you’ll accomplish over time.
(The following goal setting plan was not created by me, nor do I know who was its author, but rather one that was given as a hand-out at a workshop I attended many years ago. I have found this plan works well for me.)
Want Help Goal Setting? – Here’s How:
Step 1: Clear your head of 2017. Reflect on what you accomplished, give yourself a pat on the back, and move on. Don’t dwell on what you didn’t do. It’s a good practice to do a year-end clean-up. Action: Clear your head first. Get back on track from the holiday festivities
Step 2: Dream It.Take a couple of days and set aside 30 minutes each day to daydream. Envision what 2018 will hold for you. Where you’ll go, what you’ll do. Imagine it as if it’s happening. Pick a quiet spot. Focus. Really think about the next year as a whole. Where will you be one year from now? Action: Block this out on your calendar. 30 minutes for two consecutive days.
Step 3: Draft It. Draft out some preliminary ideas that came to you during your “daydreams.” A big picture view of the next year. Action: Sit down. Right now. Write a paragraph or two on what your next year looks like. Stream of consciousness writing – write what comes to your mind – it doesn’t have to be perfect. You aren’t being graded.
Step 4: Date It. Start for December 2018. What do you want to have accomplished? Make a list. For each item, you’ll develop a plan of action. Assign a realistic deadline for each item. What do you need to do in November to make that goal happen? Work your way back month by month to make that goal a reality by December? Action: Put your deadlines on the calendar. Now.
Step 5: Plan It. What steps do you need to take to reach your deadline for each goal? Take a separate sheet of paper/word doc and develop a plan of action for each item on your list. Action: Ask yourself high-mileage questions and give yourself mini-deadlines (and mini-rewards) along the way.
Step 6: Read It. Post your plans somewhere you can see them and read them. Read them weekly, or daily is even better. Reminding yourself of your plan and your goal will help you stay motivated and reach your goals.
Really want to accomplish your goals? Set weekly meetings with yourself to go over your goals – it can be 10-20 minutes. Take the steps necessary to make these goals a reality. As an added bonus, you’ll feel accomplished, successful, organized, and on track. A little boost in confidence goes a long way for motivation and consistence!