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Resolutions vs Goal Setting

Did you ever ask yourself what the differences were between resolutions and goal setting? What makes goal setting successful when we often fail to keep our resolutions?

Did you know what all successful people have in common? They set goals!


Here we go again, a new year has just started, and you have made resolutions that you are hoping to keep. There is only one problem; resolutions don't work! They start with a good intention, improving your life one way or another, and are usually a projection of an ideal version of yourself.

  • I will floss every day.

  • I will stop snacking while watching my favorite show.

  • I will go to the gym and lose 5 pounds.

Nothing wrong there; don't get me wrong! The issue is that this projection is too far from reality or not specific enough. Therefore, it makes you fail each time you do not accomplish what you said you were going to implement. It ends up creating negative feelings about yourself.

Example: New Year's resolution: I will stop snacking while watching my favorite show.

⇢ You get comfortable on the couch, ready to watch your favorite show. Then you get a sudden urge to snack. You get up and grab your favorite snack. Oops, bad habit, but you want it and promise to yourself this is the very last time.

Results: You eat your snack, and soon enough, you start to spiral because you feel you failed your resolution... already! You feel bad, and you end up giving up.

Goal Setting

Instead, if you want to improve your life, create goals. With goals, you have a plan. You will make small achievable steps that will lead you slowly but surely toward your big goal. You build self-confidence once each little objective is accomplished. You feel good about yourself and want to continue to see how far you can go. And you will become unstoppable!

What’s the difference between a resolution and a goal?

A resolution is something that you decide you want to do or become. It is an ideal version of yourself without necessarily a clear plan to achieve this vision. A resolution is often made in the hopes of a better outcome, but it tends to lack commitment.

It seems like the one thing to do before beginning a new year, just out of habit because this is the time to start to create a better you.

A goal, on the contrary, is an ideal version of yourself with a plan to implement. It can be implemented anytime and is free of the pressure of time, like New Year's resolutions. You set up clear actions to lead you to that goal and review your progress regularly. You notice improvement along the way as you celebrate each little success.

Why would anyone set goals?

Well, you set goals to move toward something you genuinely care about and make a plan to get there and be successful. You set goals because you want to improve who you are or how you do things.

How to set goals?

The difference between a resolution and a goal is that a successful goal is "SMART." It is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Your resolution may be: "I will exercise to lose weight."

⇢ As you notice, there are no specifics on how to make it happen or timeframe.

Instead, your smart goal could be:

"I will go to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and I will lose 5 pounds by March 31st."

⇢ It is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.

Backward Design

Once you have your SMART goal, you will want to work backward. How will you achieve it? You will set small achievable goals that will help you reach your main goal.

Example: Main goal: "I will go to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and I will lose 5 pounds by March 31st."

Small achievable goals taking into consideration several areas:

1) Getting to the gym:

  • I will wake up at 6:00 am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

  • I will prepare my gym clothes the night before.

2) Creating healthy habits to lose weight:

  • I will fill up my 1-liter water bottle each day and drink it all by the end of the day.

  • I will eat kale chips instead of potato chips.

  • I will eat vegetables with every meal.

3) Keeping track of progress:

  • I will start a food journal to keep track of what I eat and be encouraged to have healthy meals.

  • I will weigh myself on Sundays and will record it in my food journal.

3) Bringing awareness:

  • I will take body measurements when starting my goal and on March 31st.

  • I will review my food journal on Sunday night to help me figure out patterns of unhealthy behaviors (time, days, food intake, etc.)

4) Celebrating success:

  • I will review my food journal on Sunday night and will celebrate my progress.

It is important to celebrate success, even small ones. Since you will notice improvement, it will convince you that you can and will be successful. It will motivate you to continue and will help you create new healthy, sustainable habits. You will feel better emotionally and physically!

Are you ready to start setting goals?

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