I sincerely hope it is a happy, healthy, and prosperous year for you and your family.
The start of the new year is always a good time to reflect on what worked well this past year and what didn’t. It is certainly a common time to make resolutions and set goals. What were your resolutions from last year? How did they work out?
As I think about the coming year and what it might hold, I am confused about the difference between making resolutions and setting goals. You see, this is going to be a very exciting, challenging, and scary year for me. I have a new career and a new business. Do I set resolutions, goals, or both? And what is the difference?
Gretchen Rubin from the Happiness Project has pondered this question. She says “you achieve a goal and you keep a resolution.” It is easy to determine, for example, when you have achieved your goal of running a marathon. But a resolution of “exercise five days a week” is really never completed. There won’t be a time when you say, “okay, I have finished with exercise.” That is something that must be kept every day.
Gretchen says “With resolutions, the expectations are different. Each day, I try to live up to my resolutions. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but every day is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity. I never expect to be done with my resolutions, so I don’t get discouraged when they stay challenging. Which they do. “
According to Professor Timothy Pychyl, resolutions are a form of “cultural procrastination.” People use resolutions as a way to motivate themselves. But people are not really ready to change their bad habits. People are also setting unrealistic goals for themselves which quickens the failure rate. Most resolutions fizzle out after about 2 weeks.
How can we make realistic resolutions? Psychology Today provides a list of tips to increase resolution success. Here are four tips:
- Focus on one resolution, rather than several;
- Don’t wait till New Year’s Eve to make resolutions. Make it a year-long process, every day;
- Take small steps. Many people quit because the goal is too big requiring too big a step all at once;
- Focus your thinking on new behaviors and thought patterns. You have to create new neural pathways in your brain to change habits.
It seems to me that life is actually made up of both resolutions and goals. I think David Galloway on Lifehacker says it best:
“The key here is to know which changes in your life should be attainable goals and which should be permanent resolutions. Do you simply want to lose 25 lbs or do you want to exercise five days a week and cut out processed foods? If you want to be successful in weight loss perhaps you should have both goals and resolutions—the goals give you attainable milestones that keep you motivated while the resolutions help reinforce lifelong changes.”
With these tips in mind, what is your resolution? Can you choose just one? What are your goals?