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Do You Want to Keep Those Resolutions This Year? Here's How

Year after year we keep making resolutions that last for a few weeks then fizzle away. How can we make a change that sticks? Stop making resolutions and make goals instead.

resolutions and goals

Resolutions may be fine for short term changes, but if you want to make a real difference, set goals for yourself. What's the difference between a resolution and a goal? Well, a resolution is defined as a firm decision to do or not to do something. Many people use resolutions to cut back on something, for example eating or drinking something that is perceived as unhealthy like chocolate. Others might make resolutions to exercise more.

The problem with resolutions is that they are so difficult to keep. And once you break a resolution, it's broken.

Enter goals. The definition of a goal is the object of someone's ambition or effort; or a desired result. When you decide to make a goal, you actually need to take the time to map out how you plan to achieve your goal. Instead of just broadly stating, "I'm going to lose weight," you might say, "I'm going to lose 20 pounds." You would then use strategies such as eating healthy foods and exercising to meet the goal.

If you really want to step your game up when it comes to resolutions and goals, consider the SMART goal. You might have heard of SMART goals in a work setting, but you can use the same tools in your day-to-day life as well.

What exactly is a SMART goal? SMART is an acronym for

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Using our previous goal, we only need to add a little to it to make it SMART. For example, you would need to add a time element to it. "I will lose 20 pounds by July." How does this fit the requirements of a SMART goal?

  • Specific - the addition of an amount of weight you intend to lose - 20 pounds - rather than simply saying "lose weight"
  • Measurable - you can weigh yourself before you start and continue to weigh yourself over time until you reach your goal
  • Attainable - losing 20 pounds is generally considered an attainable goal (depending on the amount of time you give yourself)
  • Realistic - losing 20 pounds is also generally a realistic amount of weight to shed (again, depending on the amount of time)
  • Time-bound - adding the time element of July adds the final letter to the acronym. And, if we consider this particular goal is a New Year's goal, six to seven months is a realistic and attainable timeline

Once you make a goal, the next step is breaking that goal down into workable pieces. Again using the weight loss analogy, you might decide to:

  • eat healthy foods like vegetables and fruits
  • cut back on fried foods and sugary drinks
  • go walking three times per week
  • do weight training a couple of times per week

If you were to follow these steps, then the goal of losing weight becomes a journey that you embark on. If you slip and have a big cheeseburger with french fries and a chocolate shake, you haven't broken anything. You can easily get right back to working towards your goal.

So, what are some other SMART goals you can plan for yourself instead of resolutions?

  • Organize my space to fit my needs by the end of spring
  • Learn French before my trip to Paris
  • Have $5,000 in savings by the end of 2022
  • Read one book per month

When is the last time you made a New Year's resolution? Did you keep it easily? Maybe this year, trade those resolutions for goals and work towards achieving them rather than being disappointed if you break that generalized aspiration.

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