Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's a New Year! Goals vs. Resolutions

As the New Year comes around once again, many of us follow the tradition of making resolutions.  In the weeks that follow, we also follow the tradition of breaking those resolutions.  So, basically, it's often hard to see any real benefit from resolutions.

But, what if we replaced resolutions with goals? They pretty much sound like the same thing, but there are a few key differences. The first is that a resolution is pretty much all or nothing. If we make a resolution to eat better but then end up downing a triple-thick milkshake we say "Oh well, I blew my resolution." On the other hand, a goal is something you work toward. You might take a few steps forward and occasionally a step back, but those backward steps don't mean you won't eventually reach your goal.

Another important aspect of goals is that they are measurable and a good goal will also have concrete steps laid out to achieve it. If you have an annual performance appraisal at work you may have a section devoted to setting goals for the upcoming year and specific key steps or points needed to achieve those goals. You can approach your personal goals in the same way. If your goal is to lose weight, you should set a specific number of pounds as your goal. You should then outline a number of steps you will take to reach that weight loss. For example, you will exercise for 30 minutes at least 4 times per week and you will make it a point to eat healthfully by including a minimum of 3 servings of veggies and 2 servings of fruit per day.

Another key to goals rather than resolutions is that a goal is something to celebrate once it is achieved!  You can plan ahead to reward yourself once you reach a goal - maybe treat yourself to a trip to a spa, splurge on a new outfit, or just set aside a whole afternoon for "me time".  Whatever your reward will be, looking forward to it can help give you a boost along your journey during those times you are ready to call it quits.

So, what is your New Year's Goal?

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