• Danielle Turner LCSW

Resolutions or Goals...What's Your Pick?

Resolution or Goals…what’s your pick?

At the end of each year, when the new year approaches, we come up with new year resolutions. Most of the time, we are good about practicing what we resolved to do for about 2 to 3 months and start to fall off from continuing with the change. See we all have good intentions, to make changes and the start of the new year makes it feel like the right time to make those changes. It can be hard for some of us to maintain the changes we resolve to make at the beginning of the new year for a few reasons. We may get bored, the change becomes harder than we thought, maybe there has been no progress seen for the changed behavior, there may be financial restraints to continuing the resolved change. Change can be a struggle especially if the goal is to change something that has been a lifelong struggle. Change is also uncomfortable, which could result in stopping the behaviors related to the resolution. Whatever the reason for not maintaining the resolved change, the fact is we did not finish what we told ourselves we would do. Research shows that 80% of people fail at keeping resolutions.

According to Wikipedia, a New Year's resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western World but also found in the Eastern World, in which a person resolves to continue good practices, change an undesired trait or behavior, accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their life at the start of a new year. It is about beginning to do something good or to stop doing something bad at the beginning of the new year. In other words, a resolution is about making long term changes which require more effort into maintaining them. Resolutions are changes that you keep doing instead of completing.

Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to set goals for the new year instead of resolving to make changes with no set ending. defines goal as the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end. A goal has an ending, which means it can be tracked, progress can be seen, and the goal can be accomplished. Goals have a desired result that a person wants to achieve. Goals can be long-term or short-term. Goals are more attainable than resolutions. Exercising daily, making better food choices and going to bed early every night are examples of resolutions. Exercising 3x a week for 2 months is an example of a goal. It is specific and has an ending.

One way to set goals is with the SMART goal setting method.

  • Specific: Well defined, clear, and unambiguous

  • Measurable: With specific criteria that measure your progress toward the accomplishment of the goal

  • Achievable: Attainable and not impossible to achieve

  • Realistic: Within reach, realistic, and relevant

  • Timely: With a clearly defined timeline, including a starting date and a target date.

To make goals specific use the 5 W’s, who, what, when, where and why. To make the goal measurable ask yourself how much/many, how do I know that I reached the goal and what will my progress look like. To make a goal achievable ask yourself do I have the resources to achieve the goal and if not, what do I need. For the goal to be realistic ask yourself, is the goal within my reach and am I committed to reaching the goal. For the goal to be timely ask yourself, by when do I want to reach this goal.

Making short term goals at the beginning of the new year may be attainable and easier to achieve over a resolution. By setting goals you have a way to track your progress, know exactly what you want to accomplish, and the goal can be done in a timely manner. Resolutions are never ending and can be hard to maintain. Regardless, if you make a resolution, goal or both, do your best to achieve them and celebrate your progress along the way. Until next time, stay safe, stay well and take care of you!



Difference between Goal and Resolution | Goal vs Resolution

SMART Goal - Definition, Guide, and Importance of Goal Setting (

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