Resolutions vs. Goals: What You Need To Know

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution this year? Why not ditch the resolutions this year and make some smart goals you want to reach instead. There are a couple of reasons why resolutions may not work well for you. If they do, great. Keep doing what you’re doing, but if they don’t then read on. We’re so used to breaking our resolutions, that we start to think it is ok to try a little and then give up. It’s a mindset thing. A goal on the other hand, particularly if it’s a smart goal (more on that in a minute), is something we believe we can reach. That makes us work a little harder and not give up on the end goal. Let’s look at resolutions vs. goals now.


resolutions vs. goals


Resolutions vs. Goals



Stop Thinking Of Your Goals As Resolutions


resolutions vs goalsWhen comparing resolutions vs. goals, resolutions tend to be pretty vague. They lack focus and clarity. We want to lose weight, get back in shape, stop smoking or make more money. None of that is very specific nor is it focused. How much weight do you want to lose and in what time frame? When do you want to quit smoking and how are you going to do it? How important is it to you to be in shape? How much money do you want to have in the bank?  Are you saving for something specific?

Goals allow you to be a lot more specific. They are focused. They have a clear end result and a time frame. You can set attainable tasks or action steps with a deadline and milestones or mini-goals as you go forward. That’s what makes a goal a smart goal. A year is too long of a time frame for a single goal. And that’s what we make resolutions for, isn’t it? We make them on January 1st and we make them for the entire year.

Therefore, in the difference between resolutions vs. goals,  goals are concrete and specific with a deadline and extreme focus. A resolution is more like the big picture but in general and not specific.



The 2 Problems With Resolutions


There are two problems with resolutions. Because they are not specific and focused, they are hard to achieve. Let’s look at a resolution of losing weight as an example. This example is an excellent example of the differences between resolutions vs. goals.


Learn the difference between resolutions vs goals and get your free Goal Setting Journal right now.

Early in January, we feel like we have all year to get our act together. A couple of cookies or slices of pizza in January won’t hurt if we have until the end of the year to meet that resolution right? Then time starts to get away from us and that’s when the 2nd problem arises. Losing 25 pounds over the course of a year seemed doable. But if you haven’t made any progress by October, and have Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are ahead of you, that resolution seems unreachable.



Fixing The Problem


resolutions vs goalsSo what should you do instead? It’s fine to make a goal or call it a resolution if you’d like at the beginning of the year. Just don’t stop there. Be more specific. What’s the goal you’d like to reach? Put down a number, or describe what your end goal looks like. When do you want to reach your goal by? It could be December 31st, but it doesn’t have to be. What’s important are that your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Download the Smart Goals Free Printable to learn more about a smart goal.

Next, set some action steps along the way. If you have a big goal like losing 25 pounds for the year, set smaller tasks of losing 2 pounds each and every month. Check in every couple of weeks and make sure you’re still on track. Many people download tracker apps on their smartphones which help them stay accountable and keep track of their progress. If you can, get ahead of schedule. Things will happen, you’ll get sick, there will be parties to attend with lots of good food etc. Getting ahead of your goal schedule gives you a bit of a buffer to work with. And all this tracking will help you stick with your goals well into spring and summer.



Goals Without An End Date Are Dreams


Are you just dreaming?  You want to lose 30 pounds… eventually. You want to save up $20,000 for a down payment on a house … at some point. You want to make enough money to live comfortably … somewhere down the road. Without an end date, you have nothing to shoot for. It’s nothing more than a daydream. This is where the big difference of resolutions vs. goals comes in.

To turn those resolutions into goals, you need to know what action steps you need to take on a weekly or even daily basis. You need a plan to make it happen. And you can’t do that unless you have set an end goal date. The way to do this, start at the end and then figure out what it will take to get there. Once you know what it will take to get there you know how long from now to set the end date. Make sense?

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Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you want to get out of credit card debt this year. You own $6,000 on your credit cards combined. That means you need to pay off $500 a month in principal to clear away your entire credit card balance over the course of a year.

Making a $500 payment each month sounds a lot more doable than looking at the entire sum, doesn’t it? And by setting an end date of December 31st, you will know exactly how much to pay each month to get there. From there you can work on an action plan. You can pick up a little extra work each month to make the extra money to pay it down. Or maybe you cut out Cable TV for the year and skip your daily Starbucks trip.

Many people don't realize that there is a difference between resolutions vs. goals. Knowing the difference between them can mean a successful year!


The End Result


resolutions vs goalsThe point is when you have a goal with an end date you have something to work toward. You’ll reach your goal much faster than if you just make a resolution like paying off your credit card debt. If you only pay whatever balance is left in your bank account at the end of the month, chances are it isn’t going to be much. Then you’ll be less likely to keep your goal plan month in and month out.

If you have an end date and break your goal down into monthly (or weekly or quarterly) chunks you start to see some progress. Progress will keep you motivated to make it to the next milestone and then the next. Before you know it you’ll reach your goal. Doesn’t that sound like a much better strategy? Understanding resolutions vs. goals is important and now you understand why!


Give it a try. Instead of “just” making a resolution, make a goal and plan it out. It doesn’t have to take you the entire year. If you can reach your goal sooner, all the better. Now you have a much better understanding of resolutions vs. goals. Make sure to download the free goal planning journal to get started setting your goals today!



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