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It’s that time of year when you’ll start to hear people talking about their New Year’s resolutions. They’ll talk about losing weight, working out more, healthier eating habits, giving up smoking or beer, getting more organized, starting a new hobby or working less to spend more time with family.
Those are among the most common resolutions.
Maybe you’re one of these people too. And maybe you have one or more resolutions in mind already. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve your life or try something new… but it’s important to understand that resolutions are only as good as the commitment you make to seeing them come to fruition.
Often, people will interchange the terms, resolutions and goals. While it’s understandable that many people see these words as one in the same, it’s crucial to understand the difference between resolutions vs goals in order to determine which one is more likely to give you the outcome you desire.
What You Will Learn
A resolution is a firm decision to do, or not to do, something. It is a promise to yourself and typically more open-ended, with no specific time frame for change. Making a resolution usually involves changing some aspect of your life with statements of intent. Most resolutions are intended to take effect immediately on January 1st and don’t often take into account extenuating circumstances that may derail your efforts. Although, many people do feel extremely happy and optimistic on that first day.
A goal is a targeted outcome that often has a timeline, be it short or long-term, and requires a specific plan of action in order to make it happen. Goals are not merely your intentions, they are a committment. Goals often involve steps to get you the result you desire. For instance, if your goal is to lose 50 pounds, you will likely set targets to lose it in certain increments within a set amount of time (1-2 pounds per week is most healthy). Goal setting tactics also allow for a margin of error, with built-in ways for you to get back on track.
- Research the area for cost of homes and school ratings.
- Visit the area as a family.
- Send out your resume.
- Prepare your family and friends.
- Secure a job.
- Select your home, find temporary lodging if necessary until everyone can make the move.
To sum up what we’ve learned here, we’ve created this infographic comparing the pros and cons of setting resolutions vs goals. You may find that one, or all, hit a chord with you when it comes to deciding what you want from life… and how serious you are about making it happen.
When deciding where you want your life to go, there are a few factors to consider whether or not it should be via resolution or goal setting. Factors such as: your work ethic, willpower, timeline, the size of the change you want to make, how serious you are about things and your comfort level with potential failure.
Make a resolution if:
Make a goal if:
Resolutions are a wonderful concept and can truly inspire action among those in need of something more, or different. But a resolution can rarely stand on it’s own… in fact, you might think of it as the end result of a series of goals.
Let’s go back to the example of losing weight. If you make that your resolution for the year, setting smaller goals to help you determine how fast and how much you lose over time, will make you more likely to succeed. Otherwise, the urgency is just not there. The resolution is too vague.
Whereas if you set a goal to lose 100 lbs in a year and have a written plan, as well as done your research to help make it happen, you will likely get the results you want. Goals are more about baby steps, not grand gestures, which is why they are often more successful and have long-term and lasting effects.
If you are truly serious about something, and want to decrease your chances of failure, check out this article on SMART goal setting. The most important thing to remember when making a resolution or a goal is to have an obtainable vision.
When goal setting comes into play, it will involve creating an actionable plan and often require you give it the necessary time it deserves to ensure your needs are met. It’s really the way to go if you want to incite real and lasting change.
To learn more about goals, read our post comparing values vs goals and which one you should pursue.
Nicole Krause has been writing both personally and professionally for over 20 years. She holds a dual B.A. in English and Film Studies. Her work has appeared in some of the country’s top publications, major news outlets, online publications and blogs. As a happily married (and extremely busy) mother of four… her articles primarily focus on parenting, marriage, family, finance, organization and product reviews.
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.