Goals Are Not Resolutions – But they’re Similar

Photo By: Lady Dragonfly CC - Creative Commons

Photo By: Lady Dragonfly CC – Creative Commons

Everyone knows that the start of a new year brings joy, hope, Ryan Seacrest doing his  best Dick Clark impersonation and of course resolutions.

I think it is safe to say there are two solid camps when it comes to how people feel about them. Some love ’em some hate ’em.

The camp you find yourself  is tied directly – I believe – to your success or failure at making and keeping them.

Personally, I don’t make resolutions. Nosir,  for my money it’s all about the goals.

I set goals.

What’s the difference? Glad you asked. Well for starters, Resolutions are too vague, they’re too open ended. I feel they leave too much room for reinterpretation. How does that set them apart from resolutions? Well, glad you asked.

Honestly there is little or no difference between goal setting and resolution making.

As with most things the difference is the one you choose to make. <– Feel free to tweet that 🙂

Obviously this is just my opinion. There are writers whose work I respect that say that even “setting goals” is a waste of time but I feel that if you take the right steps making goals can not only be beneficial but kinda fun.

I wrote about this pretty extensively last year – about this time in fact. Even detailing several steps and how I work through them. You can look at that post here or here.

To me, the single most important step, the one that is almost indispensable is actually pretty easy – you need to write them down.

Writing them down solidifies them. It changes them from simple ideas more than just thoughts. It makes them real. It gives them a body to live in out their year long life. Of course, YOU have to breath that life into them and you can read about that here.

The truth is, resolutions would work the same way. The problem is that most people only put in a few minutes of thought into their resolutions – usually at 2 or 3 AM on the morning of January 1st. Besides the time another mistake resolution makes make is the list itself is usually too extensive.

“In 2014, I want to exercise,  loose weight, learn a new language, go back to school, cure cancer, travel more, work less, spend more time with my family, make more friends, get a better job, start acting, quit drinking, stop smoking, stop cursing, start a charity, volunteer more, get taller, be President, try karaoke, write a book, write a screenplay, read more, take a cooking class, go on a mission trip and read the Bible EVERY day.

That’s a lot of stuff. In and of them selves there is nothing wrong with any of them. The trouble is that there is just WAY too many.

Where do you start?

You start by writing them down.

Once they’re on paper or a note card or whatever you get a real idea of what you’re in for and from there you can whittle them down to a more manageable list.

In my opinion, you want to be able to complete more than 50% of your list otherwise you’ll find yourself drifting into the “hate ’em” camp. I shoot for 75% completion.

I believe five is the ideal number. It is not too many that you cannot reach the 50% threshold and it is not too few that you have them completed by the end of March and then you drift the rest of the year.

I once read in the Tom Clancy book Debt of Honor, “If you don’t write it down, it never happened.” There’s something simple and yet profound about this statement. I’ll let you decide what it means to you.

So, regardless of whether you’re a resolutioner or a goaler your absolute best chance of keeping your resolutions or reaching your goals is to start by writing them down.

Which are you – a goal setter or a resolution maker? Why? Leave some comments and let me know what you think.


Actually, I’m rather chagrined to admit, I tend to be neither. I have things that I want to accomplish, but I know myself. I’m not a good finisher. So, in my case, it’s more like “nothing ventured, nothing to be disappointed about.”

However, I do think that’s a bit of a cop-out. (A bit???)

I like your idea of writing things down. I remember when I was in school (in the Jurassic Era), teachers would tell us that you always learn more if you can add another step to just reading. Highlight things, or re-write them, or say them out loud. It seems that our brains retain things more when we add another process.

So, maybe this year I’ll resolve to set some goals. And then, maybe I’ll write them down.

Do you think that’ll work? ‘Cuz I really would like to lose some weight and get taller. (Or maybe if I get taller I won’t have to lose the weight? Hmmm…)

Happy New Year, Mick.


    Well, I am not sure if writing down that you want to be taller will work but I can say – without a doubt -that putting on ankle weights and hanging from the cross bar of a swing set will not.

    Happy New year to you.
    Thanks for stopping by.


Great post and thoughts. I fully believe in setting and establishing goals. Resolutions to me are just what people say to make themselves feel good and in a month they forget about them. Personally I start with a dream, whether it is big or small. Then I envision the steps to reach that dream. Once I know those steps I can create my goals and mold them to achieve my dream.

Have a great New Year.

    I didn’t even get into the “BIG” dreams or long term goals. Like you said catch the vision, brainstorm and lay out the steps to completion – like say, oh I don’t know, earning your MBA. Whatever it is, a written plan can keep you from floundering for years trying to figure out what you’ve done or what still needs doing.

    Have a great New Year.
    thanks for stopping by and commenting – please don’t be a stranger.

I think I make resolutions in my head knowing i need to make specific goals…

glad to see you writing again!!!

    Goals are not much better than resolutions it is all in the way they’re handled. Goals are just as useless left on their own. Glad to be writing again – missed it.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

[…] From time to time I talk about goals and the one I harp on most is importance of writing them down. I believe that if you don’t write it down it never existed (thank you Tom Clancy – Debt of Honor). […]

[…] other ideas and detail more of my strategies for goal setting  – you can check those our here or here, oh and […]

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