Live + Flourish Personal Development

3 Reasons to Make New Years Goals Instead of Resolutions

December 21, 2017
October at Lake Ingalls in the Cascade Mountains of Washington is a great spot to look for golden larches.

I’m going to come right out and say something that might be controversial, so here it goes – STOP MAKING NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS. Have I got your attention yet? Ok, good. Now hear me out. I’ve been making “resolutions” probably since the time I was old enough to know what a resolution was. They start us young, don’t they?

Let’s see, I’ve wanted to resolve to stop biting my nails, wake up earlier, and start going to the gym. Do you know how many of those things I’ve stuck with? None! I’ve had many years to reflect on why that is and I have come to a conclusion. I just can’t work with simple resolutions. I need an end in sight, something part of the big picture – a goal. I am like this with hiking. I have a hard time hiking through old growth forests: the trees are too big, the mountains and views not visible. How am I supposed to know how much longer until I’m accomplished?

Are you setting yourself up for failure by setting resolutions instead of goals? 3 reasons you should set goals instead!

Let’s get started with the difference between resolutions and goals.

  • Resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something.
  • Goal: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.

So a resolution is a “firm decision”. Now I love me some firm things – cheesecake, mattresses, butts. But I know myself and I don’t have the self-discipline it takes to be firm with myself. In contrast, goals are an aim or desired result, I have a lot of those.

Think about it, people don’t comment #coupleresolutions on Chrissy Tiegen’s Instagram. No, they write #couplegoals because they know they want a love like her and John Legend’s. Who doesn’t? If that can’t tell you the difference between goal and resolution… Then you might not be a millennial.

This isn’t a post for those “life is about the journey not the destination” people. This is a list for everyone else who has trouble disciplining themselves but can make things happen when the end goal is in sight and why they should.

Goals have an expiration date

Goals have end dates or deadlines if you want to think of it in a more pressing matter. If you don’t reach your goal by such date, it has consequences.

Let’s go back to college. (No, sadly I don’t have a time machine if that’s what you’re thinking.) I’m sure in the beginning of every semester you had the resolution to get to class early and go to office hours. This semester would be the one, dammit! But your goal was to pass the class and improve your GPA. Sure, getting there on time and meeting with your professor is great but actually they are just tools to eventually attain the amazing grade you wanted.

Goals can build up momentum on one another

Is anyone else here checklist obsessed? If you are, then you are aware of that amazing feeling that crossing something off your list gives you. Sometimes I add easy tasks to my list just for the sake of being able to cross them off. That might seem silly but that sense of accomplishment inspires me to try to accomplish more!

Creating a habit of assigning yourself a small checklist of goals to accomplish each day will keep you motivated to tackle the bigger ones!

Goals are buildable

If Shrek were to explain goals he might have said they’re like onions. But that is because he’s never heard of Legos. Instead of setting one large goal that might feel daunting, you can create little goals in the mean time that lead up to it. Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover uses this approach to eliminating debt and gaining wealth. He calls them the “Baby Steps”. By breaking down an ambitious goal into attainable, easier to measure steps, it seems more feasible and possible.

Lets move this metaphor over to hiking. (Come on, you’re on a hiking blog. Did you really think you’d get through this without me mentioning mountains?) Mountains are not only awesome but a perfect metaphor when it comes to goals. Getting to the top of the mountain can seem like a lot of work, maybe even impossible. Inch by inch, step by step you start to cover more ground. With every climb and switchback, that mountain top becomes closer to a reality. Once you get to the top the troubles from the bottom almost seem to melt away, a distant memory that wasn’t so bad.

Are you setting yourself up for failure by setting resolutions instead of goals? 3 reasons you should set goals instead!

Before I leave you to take on 2018, please know this post is only half serious. Whatever verbiage you decide to use; resolution or goal, the fact you are striving to make self-improvement is what matters most. What are some of your goals or resolutions for 2018?

Do you prefer setting goals or resolutions? Let me know down below!

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  • Dani Elle

    I like how your personality comes out in your post. It makes it a very easy and entertaining read. I also lovvve reading about goals since this is the subject I talk most about (I’m a Life Coach). Thank you for your wonderful perspective.

    • Thank you! I try to make more “serious” subjects a little more fun because for me that makes it more relatable and doable. I love reading other people’s goals as well. I am working on a detailed post for my blog goals for the upcoming new year.

  • Annchovie

    Love this! It makes so much sense to set goals rather than resolutions. Love this positive post!

  • Gillian Gilla Seetso

    Couldn’t agree more with you. I have come to learn that I forget about my New Year resolutions but I work hard on my goals and reaching them

    • I agree! I can give myself a lot more excuses with “resolutions”. If I have a goal (deadline) it gives me the kick in the butt I need. It is probably silly and all in my head with whatever word I call it but it is what works for me!

  • celine navarro

    definitely! I usually set 3 BIG goals for the new year, then 5 other goals that I’d like to reach by the end of the year 🙂
    wishing you a wonderful christmas!

    • That’s a really good idea. I am currently working on my blogging goals.. I’m setting some high hopes so we shall see if it’s possible in a year.
      I hope you have a great Christmas and safe and fun New Year as well!

  • Kalaw Sarah

    Great idea and very timely!

  • Reilly

    Perfection. I hate resolutions. I need goals. Something measurable, attainable, and timely. Thank you for this motivation!

    • Thank you. Agreed. Resolutions have a tendency to fall by the wayside. Goals are much better suited to me as well. Have a great new year!

  • Ashlyn Skaar

    Yes! I love this! I have never ‘accomplished’ a resolution, but I accomplish goals all the time! Goals are SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely!