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Goals vs. Resolutions

Have you set New Year's resolutions or goals for the upcoming months?

Although the beginning of the year is a great time to plan for the upcoming months, oftentimes people will jump onto the resolutions/goals band wagon simply because of tradition or because it is expected. Within the first week of the year, 25 percent of resolutions have fallen by the wayside! It makes me wonder - How many of these resolutions were created with care and thoughtful intent?

At times used interchangeably, resolutions and goals are not necessarily approached the same way. What is the difference? Does it really matter which word we use or focus on for the upcoming year?

Let’s take a quick look.

The word resolution comes from the word “resolve” which is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “to make clear or understandable” and “to reach a firm decision about.” It’s very much like setting an intention and making clear in your mind what you desire so that you know where to direct your focus. For example, some people may resolve to be kinder in the New Year or they may resolve to become healthier.

A goal is defined as “the end toward which effort is directed.” Although similar to a resolution, a goal has a set end point and desired outcome. A goal is often more defined such as “my goal is to put $100 in savings each month.”

Goals not only have an end in mind but also a strategy and plan on how to get there. This is especially important when working with money since having a plan and strategy while tracking quantifiable progress seems to help people stay on course.

Whether you see it as a resolution or a goal, ultimately it doesn’t matter. What does matter is the approach behind it. The first step is to have a well-defined outcome that is meaningful to you.

I invite you to meditate or journal on what you would like to achieve in the next 3-6 months. What do you most value? How do you want to spend your time? In what areas would you like to grow? Notice I am not referring to the whole year. Starting with a shorter time period makes it feel more realistic and achievable.

If it takes you the whole month of January to reflect upon what you desire for yourself or what changes you want to implement then take the time to do that! If you don't want to even think about setting goals right now then take the pressure off! There is no rule on when to start goals. It is best to be clear on your intent and desires so that you can start off committed wholeheartedly to the process.

For now, begin with some reflection as you dig deep for what matters to you. Make a list and pick the top three most important items that you want to focus on for the next 3-6 months.

Next week, we’ll talk more about taking this list and how we can set ourselves up to ensure long term success!