New Year’s Resolutions or Goals?

By Tom Reilly

Most people are familiar with the abysmal record of New Year’s resolutions and their successes. It sounds good at the end of December to pick January 1st as the day to change our lives. The problem is that most efforts to change fail. Multiple surveys show that between 80-92% of New Year’s promises that people make to themselves are broken in short order. Not to split hairs on the statistics, let’s just agree that most resolutions fail. Why?

To me, a resolution sounds weak compared to a goal. A goal is specific, measurable, aggressive, realistic, and has a timeline for completion. A goal is a commitment that we make to ourselves. A resolution sounds like something political bodies do when they don’t want to make laws that stick.

Having a goal to which we can commit gives us a sense of purpose. It reminds me of a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Setting a goal with an accompanying “Why statement” gets to the heart of our motivation. Remaining connected to our motivation is a powerful way to change behavior.

So, as you think about next year, set goals and forego the resolutions. When you set goals, stay close to the “why” question and connected to your motivation.

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