Resolutions or Goals. Is there a difference?

Has your resolve to stick to your New Year’s resolutions begun to fade?  Or has it fizzled out altogether?  If so, you are not alone.  Forty percent or so already have. By the end of the month, some 85% of us will have abandoned our resolutions.  Not very encouraging, is it?

I got so discouraged with failed resolutions that I made a resolution to never make another New Year’s resolution again.  It’s the only one I’ve managed to keep.

That doesn’t mean I stopped setting goals, though.  Over the years, I’ve learned to do just that: set goals.  Ones that have a much better chance of surviving beyond the first month. The key, I discovered, is to answer the ‘how’ of the goals I wanted to accomplish.  If I wanted to develop leadership skills, how was I going to accomplish that?  If I wanted to get fit, how was I going to accomplish it?  If I wanted to write more, how was I going to accomplish it?

I needed a plan of action, and I needed to write down my plan of action.  Leadership and time management experts like Bill Zipp and Michael Hyatt suggest that we are more likely to meet our goals if we write them down (something I never did when I made resolutions). But, not only do we need to write them down, we need to make them smart or, rather, SMART:

S – Is my goal specific?  Rather than ‘write more,’ a more specific goal might be to write for 20 minutes a day everyday in order to produce 2 blog posts per month.  The ‘what to write’ could be a little less specific but still have prompts available for any writer’s block. On weekdays, I could set aside 20 minutes after supper.  On weekends, the first thing in the morning before turning on any electronics.

M – Is the goal measurable?  I can measure the time and the days that I write.  I could also check them off on a calendar.

A – Is my goal actionable/achievable? Yes, and it pushes me outside my comfort zone just enough.

– Is my goal realistic and/or relevant?   This is crucial.  If we set unrealistic goals for ourselves, we are more likely to lose heart and give up.  Going from couch potato to marathon runner in 30 days is not realistic.  For me, writing 20 minutes a day is realistic and relevant to meeting my goal.

T – Is my goal time-bound?  Do I need to set a deadline or a time frame?  My daily writing will be ongoing, but my posts will need to have deadlines, likely every 2 weeks.

This is not a fail-safe method.  It still requires self-discipline, but by writing our goals down and being deliberate about how we work towards them, we improve our odds of achieving them.

So, is there a difference between resolutions and goals?  Perhaps not, especially if your resolutions are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound.  That is what can make all the difference.  I just like to call them goals.  That way I can set them at any time of the year.  And I can keep my resolution to never make another New Year’s resolution.

What have been some of your successes (or struggles) with resolutions or goals? I’d love to hear from you.  And, if you know someone who might enjoy reading this, please send it on to them!

If you’d like to try using SMART goals, here is a link to one planning page: https://akla.org/commons/files/2013/01/GoalSettingwithSMARTGoals.pdf

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About Sherry Langland

I have been teaching English for 15 years and am passionate about teaching students to read critically, think critically, and live purposefully. I am also the lead teacher for our junior high department and am thankful to be part of such a dedicated group of teachers who are committed to collaborating around the most important part of our job: student learning. My biggest blessing is being the mother of 2 young men who are in their 20s and discovering their purpose.
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One Response to Resolutions or Goals. Is there a difference?

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