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New Year Resolutions – or Goals?

New Year resolutions aren’t for everyone.

If you ask most people come February they will say that they have let their New Year resolutions drift, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

New year resolutions - or goals?

© Quentin Bargate |

Why are New Year resolutions set?

There are two reasons why I think it’s great to set New Year resolutions:-


Number one – Its the perfect fresh start.

You have had the excesses of Christmas and want to change something – so it only seems right to do it after the holidays.


Number two – You are likely to have had some time off over Christmas – totally away from your usual day to day life – the same as your summer holiday.

That sort of time is usually when we start to think about life as a whole, and not the details. We can start to see exactly what we love, and what we don’t love – and promise to make changes.

new year resolutions

© Fuzzbones |

Why set New Year resolutions at all?

I for one though don’t necessarily advocate setting New Year resolutions…. let me explain:-

There is such a lot of pressure on people at this time of year, and with the longer holidays season we all tend to go back to work/school with a bang.

Real life sets in – the days are cold and dark, we are busier than ever trying to catch up after having a week or two off, and adding resolutions to all that can make things so much more stressful than they need to be.

I also believe that New Years resolutions are made in haste the majority of the time.

They can be very generic, and a direct result of the excesses of Christmas (i.e. to lose weight, to abstain from alcohol etc….).

While these are all good things (especially if Christmas has been very full on), unless they are what you really want for yourself, they probably won’t work and you will end up feeling bad about yourself – and who wants that?!

You are basically setting yourself up for a fall.

What’s the solution?

I think that it can be a great time to think about your life and where you are heading etc….. – but I also think that the pressure should be eased a bit on setting all your resolutions in one go for the entire year.

So my answer is to look at goals and set them around 4 times a year – coinciding with when the seasons change.

Summer and Christmas are great times because we naturally have a break from reality, but they are too far apart to be just them – so I also look in the Spring and Autumn.

That way I know I am on track and a lot of things can change in the course of the year – including your priorities and needs – so I feel that you need to look at them a lot more often than just at Christmas.

And I also prefer to call them Goals – not resolutions.

The difference between goals and resolutions.

Resolutions are promises to yourself that you will do something – whereas Goals are targets to meet.

They are slightly different in terminology – but worlds apart in your subconscious.

They are the equivalent of NICE TO DO vs. HAVE TO DO.

Resolutions can fall by the wayside, because they are deemed less important than real life a lot of the time. They are the nice to haves in life.

Whereas Goals have more of an urgency and importance about them.

How to set New Year resolutions

There is nothing wrong with setting resolutions – as long as you treat them as goals that you truly want for yourself, as you are then more likely to achieve them.

With anything in life you have to have a real want and need for something to really make it happen – and it’s no different for resolutions – setting them for the sake of it simply won’t work.

Think about where you are in life, and where you want to be in a years time.

What will make the most difference to your life? This is a great place to start.

Then, set the resolution like you would a goal.

Goals have to be S.M.A.R.T to work best. I did a post a while back about setting goals, and the SMART acronym stands for SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, RELEVANT, TIME SPECIFIC.

Once you have found the thing(s) that you want to focus on – set yourself a target you want to reach or get it done by – and make it realistic (you don’t want to add unnecessary pressure on yourself, but you want to give it some amount of urgency to provide you with the drive to get it done).

It sounds tricky – and too much like hard work for a resolution – but its easy I promise you! Let’s look at a quick example:-

My resolution this year might be

I want to lose weight

This would be a great resolution – but to make it into a goal I would also say the following:-

I want to lose xlbs in weight by xxx. I will do this by losing xlbs a week/month for x weeks/months.

See how much more focused the latter is?

I could then simply write a target each week or month in my diary and follow it more closely – so I could easily see whether I was on track or not.

When it came to checking in with my resolutions/goals in the spring, I would then see whether anything needed tweaking – or whether I could add a new goal as this one has been done.

Start the year as you mean to go on…

New year resolutions - or goals?It’s a lot more organic and easy to set resolutions in goal form throughout the year, rather than the all or nothing mentality that comes about after Christmas.

So – give yourself a break and work out what you really want from this year. Make sure it’s something that you will be driven to achieve (see my “Where’s the pain” post from while back – you need to have a pain to want to change something)

Set yourself goals to get there, and track progress on the way.

That way you are much more likely to stick to your resolutions and achieve them – and who wouldn’t want that!



Are you setting any resolutions this year? Do you set them only at this time of year or throughout the year? I’d love to know so please leave a comment below – thanks in advance!

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4 Responses to New Year Resolutions – or Goals?

  1. Vanessa Dec 30, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

    I love this post. I’m always so optimistic going into January full on and then it all falls apart.
    I’m making sure to set my goals this year so that I can see my progress and achievements and hopefully that will spur me on to keep going throughout the year!

    • Chrissy Halton Dec 31, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

      Hi Vanessa – really pleased you liked the post – thanks for your comment and Happy new year! x

  2. Dan Jan 3, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    Loving the psychology behind this – resolutions vs goals…
    Definitely one to help me make more significant and longer lasting changes to my lifestyle….


  3. Elaine Willis Dec 31, 2013 at 10:01 am #

    I have been thinking about NY’s resolutions for several days now. I haven’t set any in years because my first one needs to be STOP Procrastinating. -grin-

    It was only a day or so ago that I realized that one of my problems is I don’t want resolutions (get fit). I want something to aim for (walk 10,000 steps a day.)

    I still haven’t written anything down (stop procrastinating), but I am making progress in my thinking.

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