We are one week into the new year. That means this is one of several messages on your screen to weigh in on the big debate: resolutions v. goals. And by now, you’ve probably heard the stat from a report published by U.S. News & World Report: “More than 80% of people fail at their New Year’s Resolutions by mid-February.”
I used to be in the camp of people who made New Year’s resolutions. I used to also play the semantics game and conflate resolutions with goals. Because after all, aren’t resolutions just goals called by another name? Well, not in my mind.
About seven years ago, I started focusing on goals in lieu of resolutions. Ever since, it’s something I suggest my clients do, too. And why I’m on your screen right now with the same message.
To help me make a case for why you’d benefit from figuring out your goals instead of making resolutions, let’s start with their respective definitions.
According to Merriam-Webster, resolution is defined as “the decision to do or not do something.” Whereas a goal is defined as “the end toward which effort is directed.”
Yes, both words reflect a desire for something to change and perhaps represent a chance for a fresh start or an opportunity to see yourself (or aspects of your circumstances) anew. Yet, my interpretation of these definitions is that the former (resolution, a decision) involves a single step, and the latter (goal, effort) involves multiple steps.
Sometimes, More is Better
And, in my opinion those multiple steps can make all the difference in the world.
Below are the steps I recommend to my clients and what I practice in my life and business. Whether you choose to use all of them or just a few, my hope is that the flow of the steps will help you make 2022 one of your best yet:
Because the obvious can often be the easiest thing to overlook, I recommend you start first with writing down all your goals – unfettered by whether it’s a professional or personal goal, a financial or non-financial one, or, even if it is something you want in the short- or long-term. Begin by doing a brain dump.
Feed your goals
All goals need something; what do your goals need? For each of the goals you’ve written down, begin to brainstorm what you may need to reach your goals.
For example, do you need to learn a new skill or amplify an existing one in order to achieve this goal? Do you need a resource you don’t have currently?
As you get curious about what your goals need, it’s important not to get stuck in the “how.” Because if you focus on “how” too soon you may lose momentum before you even have a chance to get things going.
Once you have an idea of what your goals need from you, it’s time to take stock of where you are currently. This helps you to “see” more clearly how wide the gap is between where you are now and where you’re aiming to be and what you’re aiming to do/have.
Another aspect of this is being kind to yourself if any of your goals have been on your list before. Be sure you’re not beating yourself up for not having achieved it previously. But, do invest the time to get curious about the reasons you didn’t meet it or make as much progress as you had hoped.
Know your why
Each of your goals resonate with you for a reason. So, make note of why your goal is important to you. And be sure to be unfiltered here. In other words, give yourself permission to own your why without self-judgment or concern about external judgment, either. Your goals are your goals!
Know the benefit
What’s the benefit of achieving your goal – to you and potentially for others? (To me, this goes beyond your “why.”)
There are some people who believe if you consider the possibility of failing at something that you’re setting yourself up to fail. I wholeheartedly disagree.
I believe if you think about the what-if’s and acknowledge that failure can happen, you actually put yourself in a position to get ahead of what may derail you. You can be proactive rather than reactive.
Befriend your fears
Some might say I have an unusual perspective on fear. If you’re curious, I’ve written about my relationship with fear and how I believe you and I benefit when we befriend our fears. The reason I encourage you to do so is this: it can become yet another “tool” in your kit for putting yourself in a position to be proactive.
What excites you?
Even if your goal is a practical one, there’s gotta be something about it that excites you. Being aware of that is what will help you when the journey toward achieving your goal gets tough.
Make a plan
When it comes to goals, something I’ve noticed is that a lot of people jump to the step of making a plan too soon.
Yet, both from observation and first-hand experience, what I’ve discovered is it is only after you’ve done the above that you are now ready to create a plan.
And from my perspective, a plan represents a series of steps within a step; steps that invite you to take a look at how you need to change and what you need to do differently. These include taking the time to:
- reduce your brain dump of goals and select up to five (5) of them as your priority of this year and map out how you intend to reach each goal;
- look at your behavior – what habits are you currently practicing vs. what habits do you need to practice to help you reach each goal;
- create a system for tracking your effort and progress – aka: getting feedback.
Who Are You Becoming?
I like what Phoebe Gavin said, “resolutions are statements of intention, while goals are statements of commitment.”
It’s pretty obvious that I am a huge fan of goals. Not simply for the sake of goals.
Goals are about so much more than the outcome you’re aiming for. The effort it takes to achieve your goals frequently:
- helps you to become a better version of yourself, i.e., increases your emotional intelligence, discover your strengths, etc.;
- invites you to define (or redefine) risk;
- prompts you to question your beliefs and/or perhaps move through limiting beliefs.
Even the most practical goal requires you to shift out of your comfort zone. Being and staying okay with this reality does, indeed, require commitment.
Yes, you can declare goals at any time of the year. But since it’s January, I am asking that you figure out your goals – instead of making resolutions. And use the steps above if you don’t have a process for doing so, or if you want to add something from above to your existing approach.
Next week, we’re going to talk about the money factor that almost every goal you have has.
In the meantime, Happy New Year!
p.s. I’d love to know one of your 2022 goals. Send me a DM on IG to share.
p.p.s. Speaking of goals, is it time to do/re-do the Financial Wheel exercise? Click here.