One Proud Thing: Resolutions Vs Goals in 2016

December 31, 2015

Lots of people don't make their New Year's resolutions a reality and in 2015 I was one of those people - and, I have to admit, that this wasn't the first time!

I think the reason some of us fall short (or at least why I often fall short) is because I / we try to cram everything we want to change into a single list without really thinking about what it will take to make that list a reality.

A second (but related) reason we don't succeed, in my opinion, has to do with the word resolution itself.  A resolution - something we resolve to do - suggests a serious commitment, a pledge or even a vow. And pledges and vows, like sacred quests, are destined to succeed or fail.  

I didn't realize that until I wrote my previous New Year's post but, when I did, the more I thought about it the more it made sense.  I realized that, because there is no halfway point to a resolution, progress doesn't mean much of anything.  And so, if we over-estimate ourselves and can't complete our resolutions, our only option is failure.

Since I don't want to feel like I've failed in 2016, I'm doing things differently by setting several new Year's goals and only one do or die resolution.  The resolution is to publish a book.  The goals include changes I'd like to make in my health, my home, my career and even my garden over the course of the year.

For each large goal I have set one or two realistic, smaller or short term goals I feel pretty sure I can handle.

Becoming more self-sufficient means a rain barrel this spring and building a small hen house over the summer. It does not mean we are going off the grid in 2016 (or ever).

Setting an expectation for home remodeling means that I'll keep on plugging and that I want to have the front hall finished by the end of the winter.  It means I'll look at the kitchen project over the summer and decide if we are going to be able to build new custom cabinets then (or in 2017).  It does not mean that everything will be (or, in an old house, even can be) complete.

Improving my health means the same thing it means every year but because I'm going to focus on the small things (e.g. some exercise everyday whether that's at the gym or in the garden) I think I will finally learn to accept that this is a long haul, change your life kind of endeavor.

And this is what I like about goals.  We can say we are going in a specific direction (our goal) and then set meaningful check points between here and there.  If we don't get to the goal but manage to arrive at those intermediate points, we know we're on our way to something better.

Still, there is something about setting a resolution that has always appealed to me.  Resolutions are big meaningful things.  Resolutions are grand and honorable and brave.  They may be a little over dramatic at times but there is something about declaring your resolve that can very inspiring.

Because of this I just can't let any New Year go without making one.  

For me, a resolution is a commitment to get something done.  It doesn't matter how you do it or even necessarily when (as long as it's completed by next New Year's Eve, of course).  What matters is finishing, honoring your word, and feeling proud.  A laundry  list of New Year's resolutions diminishes that enormous thing you are going to be so proud of when it is finally done (and makes it a lot less likely that you'll succeed).

My 2016 resolution is writing and publishing a book.  Going on record here with that great big declaration is an important first step.  But there are a lot of other steps too and that's okay because I've made a promise to myself that I'll get it done.

My resolution advice for the New Year?  

If you have a list of resolutions, pull that list out and pick the one that makes your heart beat.  The one that scares you.  The one that makes you feel proud.  This is one you will commit to doing - no matter what.

The rest are your goals.  Break them down into smaller pieces and add a few dates.  Don't give up on them when the going gets tough but prepared to revisit them and adjust things if you find that you've over-estimated your stamina or free time.

You can (and should) create a plan for your resolution just like you did for your goals  It can have a number of action steps and, if your first step is figuring out just how you are going to succeed, that's okay too.  Because you know that whatever it takes, that one proud thing is going to happen.  No matter what.

Wishing Everyone Success and Good Fortune in the New Year <3



  1. This is a great article, I so appreciate the helpful distinction!

    1. Thanks so much Jenny. I'm glad you found it useful.

      All the blessings of the New Year!



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