Is it Better to Make Resolutions or Set Goals? – Post 421

Welcome to Feb. Well, we’re a month into the New Year, how are you doing so far?  How are your New Year’s resolutions going? Are you still on track?


Probably not. Most of us get off track within the first few months of the year. We just keep on marching forward in life, day after day, traffic jam after traffic jam, cubicle after cubicle. Life is moving faster and faster, month by month, year by year but we’re really not getting anywhere.

Why do most of us fail at keeping our New Year’s resolutions and what simple change can we make that will help us achieve what we want to accomplish in the future?

Well that is what we are going to discuss on today’s episode of the ProsperityRx Podcast. So lets get on with the show.

Every December and January we RESOLVE to change our path. To get healthier. To become fit. To get out of debt. To save money. To do something different yet within the first month or two we fail to change.

December is a month attached with lots of emotions. As the holidays close in we get caught up in an emotional roller coaster. We’re in a giving mood but realize, no matter how prepared we thought we were, our finances aren’t in line with emotional aspect of giving. Family dynamics during the holidays test our emotions. And then the hustle and bustle of the season combined with all the special foods and holiday treats, we find ourselves not making the best choices when it comes to our health and what we eat.

On top of that, after the holidays have past and we start facing a New Year we reflect on the failures of the past year and we tend to make resolutions for the New Year that are overly ambitious and destined to fail.

As the New Year starts we are a bit apprehensive because we really don’t know what the New Year will bring and at the same time we realize that we have set the same resolutions in the past and have failed to succeed in completing the resolution, many times year after year.

It’s important to set some intentions for positive change in our life for the New Year, to hit the refresh button, so we need to take a different look at how we set those intentions for this New Year.

By definition, resolutions are more do-or-die which makes them more intimidating and more likely to fail. The definition of resolution is “a firm decision to do or not do something” or “the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.” A resolution tends to be ridged and inflexible. More conducive to failure.

Nearly 90 percent of those optimistically life-altering plans fail. And, that’s never good for our ego. It makes us question ourselves. It makes us want to avoid making future commitments to ourselves. It makes us not just quit our plans to make ourselves better, but it can actually turn us in the wrong direction. The “I want to eat salad for lunch everyday diet,” doesn’t just derail into a simple tuna sandwich and a bag of chips. Our frustration instead leads us to a box of donuts, with a side of fries.

Meanwhile a goal by definition is “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result; the destination of a journey.”

Just by these definitions alone, a goal sounds more attainable. Instead of setting a “firm” resolution that requires a very specific result we need to set a goal which is a part of a journey and enjoy the road to reaching a better place in our life.

While resolutions seem set in stone, goals are more malleable. Achieving a goal is an entirely different process than achieving a resolution.

For example if we set a resolution to eat healthier we become more obsessed with the result. If we cheat we feel like we failed completely. Do it enough time and we lose our resolve. Meanwhile if we set a goal to eat healthy, if we slipped up, it didn’t ruin our intention. We can start over tomorrow and continue to work toward eating healthier. We hadn’t broken an ultimate or overarching rule.

If we set a resolution, every day will be a battle to uphold that resolution but if we set a goal every day will be a journey toward that goal, with ups and downs, good days and bad days. By the end of the year we will be able to look back on our year and think about the progress we made toward our goal and be proud of the work we put in instead of evaluating whether we did or did not uphold our resolution.

Ultimately a resolution is a pass/ fail grade while a goal is graded on an A-F scale.

If we don’t reach the goal we have at least made progress and we can continue that progress into the next year.

Setting ourselves up for success in the New Year is one of the most crucial aspects of goal-setting. Bettering ourselves involves challenging ourselves, but we also don’t want to force ourselves to do anything we simply cannot achieve.

When setting goals, it’s important to consider how we’ll achieve it. Consider the steps we can realistically take to get there, breaking them down into baby steps that we can accomplish along the way, giving us little wins that keep us motivated.

Setting goals that aim too high are bound to fail, setting goals too low can also be similarly bound for failure. When we set goal and then break them down into baby steps, our minds perceive them as easy to achieve. And as we progress along the way, we feel a sense of reward.

Here are a few tips to help us with our goal setting.

  1. Never shoot for sameness. It makes sense that trying to remain the same can lead to failure, because there is nothing more natural than change. Expect to change. Strive for improvement.
  2. Make it public. Sharing our goal holds us accountable to achieving that goal. Tell our friends and family. Tell our coworkers. And be vocal about our intentions and progress.
  3. Make it focused. Being a better boss, becoming rich, or losing weight are hard to quantify unless we get focused and specific with our words. We should define each step toward our goal, and stay focused only on the next step.
  4. Make it scalable. While we can all hope to find a Genie to grant us wishes, the truth about achieving any change is that small actions eventually create large results. Don’t be discouraged by small change. Applaud it. It’s part of the process. Weight is lost pound by pound. Money is made dollar by dollar. Books are written one word after the other.
  5. Give it consequences—both good and bad. We all hold ourselves more accountable when consequences are present. Set consequences—plan something that stings a little when we fail, and celebrates when we succeed. While many goals focus on quitting negative habits, others should focus on adding rewarding habits. For example, it’s great to say we want to quit smoking or quit eating French fries. But, if we quit something negative, we should also add a goals to do something we enjoy—like having a date night with our spouse.
  6. Seek support. There are few more powerful things in life than knowing someone is cheering for our success. When we set a goal, seek out a person who will support our decision and be our champion. And, even if we’re not chasing the same goal, to become a cheerleader for their goals as well.
  7. Manage expectations. There’s a reason we didn’t achieve all our goals in the past. We can probably list many of them—we got busy, distracted, stressed, and so on. Know that while we’re trying to create change, a lot of our life demands won’t change. We’ll still be just as busy. We’ll still find distractions. And, we need to manage our expectations when setbacks happen. Don’t throw in the towel.
  8. Start Doing. Advice can come in many ways. Yes, there are psychological, physiological, and social elements included with any intended change we want to make this year. But, ironically, when we achieve our goal, our friends, family members, and coworkers will summarize our achievements in one simple sentence. They’ll say, “You did it!” So, possibly the best advice I can give anyone is this, “Start doing.”

We also have to consider why we are setting the goal in the first place. If we’re not doing it for us, what are we doing it for? Having a really big why increases our chance of success.

While a resolution to do something specific in the New Year feels like it must be completed by December 31st. Let’s be real, we are fallible creatures. Life is hard and sometimes it gets the best of us. Sometimes, the outcomes in our own lives are out of our own control. Since so many things in life are out of our own control, why are we so hard on ourselves when we don’t meet a resolution by the arbitrary deadline of December 31st?

It’s better to set a goal, so we can evaluate our progress and adjust along the way rather than write off a failed resolution and give up on it. Life is hard enough without the added pressure from ourselves. A goal can be a symbolic finish line that we’re working toward, whether the finish line is December 31st, or a metaphorical point we aim to reach for over the rest of our life. When life gets the best of us and circumstances happen that are out of our control, with goals we can reevaluate and adjust, eliminating the feeling of failure that we experience when we “break” our resolutions.

We should all absolutely aspire to our goals and light fires under our asses to achieve them, but at the end of the day, and the end of the year, it’s important to show ourselves some love for everything we’ve already made happen in our life. To celebrate our successes.

Change is inevitable. It’s going to happen. And, that means we should all focus on setting goals to make the best changes possible. Best wishes in 2019!

I hope you enjoyed this episode of the ProsperityRx Podcast. If you did find value please subscribe and feel free to share it with others.

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