Resolutions vs. Goals

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Judging by all of the blog posts I’ve read the last couple weeks it seems like most people have given up on resolutions. I’ve seen all sorts of alternatives:

Word or phrase of the year

New Year Intention

Bible Verse of the year


and more….

Some people have given up on doing anything even remotely like a resolution. I think the above ideas can be great – I chose a word for the year myself – but we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath.

While I agree that the traditional “resolution” is generally ineffective, the beginning of the year is an excellent time to set GOALS. Goals and resolutions are NOT the same, here are some of the differences:

  • Goals (SMART goals) are specific and measurable. You will break them down into small steps to achieve them. They have a built in action plan.
  • Goals are evaluated at regular intervals and adjusted as needed.
  • Goals can be set at any time – the beginning of the year is a great time but it isn’t the ONLY time. You can and should set and adjust goals throughout the year.
  • Goals are not all or nothing, even if you don’t quite meet your goal by your deadline chances are you have made progress.

Your goals should always be SMART goals-SMART goals are much more likely to get accomplished than general goals. Smart goals are:





Time Sensitive

So, you are going to make your goal as specific as possible, with very specific numbers (measurable) and deadlines (time sensitive). Attainable and realistic are almost the same but I like to think of attainable as something that is humanly possible and realistic as something that is possible in my specific situation and life right now. Can I realistically accomplish it while still keeping up with my other responsibilities?

Here is an example:

You could say “my New Year’s resolution is to write a book.”

But it would be better to say, “My goal for 2017 is to write a book by the end of the year.” You have now made it more specific, measurable and time sensitive (by the end of the year). You would have to determine for yourself if this is attainable and realistic.

To make this an even stronger goal and increase your chances of achieving it take the next step and figure out how many pages you plan to write every week and/or month, what your book will be about, when you plan to write, and for how long.

This might sound like: “I will write for 1 hour every morning, Monday -Friday from 5am-6am with a goal of 500 words per day. I plan to complete a minimum of 2000 words per week and 8000 words per month after editing.” This will actually get you a complete novel-length manuscript before the end of the year but for the sake of being realistic, I like to build in a bit of time for the unexpected.

The next step would be to decide how often you will evaluate this goal. Keeping up with daily, weekly, and monthly word count is easy but perhaps you want to evaluate your overall progress on a quarterly basis and adjust your goal as needed (more or less words per day, set aside editing time, move your deadline sooner or later etc) based on the progress so far.

That is how I go about setting my goals, making sure they are “SMART,” breaking them into smaller steps, and planning to evaluate them. At a minimum, I evaluate all of my goals in the summer – half-way through the year. I also generally set “school-year” goals at that time.

One other thing I do to streamline my goal setting is to break them down by category.

It helps me to think through them and make sure my goals are balanced in all areas of my life. My categories this year were:

  • Faith
  • Family/Home (includes parenting, marriage, and homemaking)
  • Farm
  • Health (for the whole family)
  • Creativity
  • Business

I could also include a personal development/education section but this year I rolled it into my business goals.

Your categories may look different but think through the major areas of your life that are important and where you want to grow and set goals for each.

I hope these tips can help you set goals for the year. Let me know in the comments if you plan to set goals, resolutions, or do something else completely. 

Want to see more about goal setting and planning? Click the links below to see other posts and resources that may help!

Free social media planner


  1. This post reminds me of when I had to write my goals out for my old job. When I can measure goals I have written out, they are more likely to be accomplished. Will be saving this post. I love it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *