How to make resolutions and goals that stick

Today’s the day. I’m sitting here in my workout clothes not working out, typing on my laptop. (So far, not much different than last year.) I have my reasons.

  1. It’s raining
  2. I got up 2 hours earlier than I have for weeks (my son went back to school today)
  3. New Year’s was a church day, so I am making time to write out my goals
  4. I’m going to the Y at some point today

I’m hoping you feel the same way. Maybe you’re sitting at your laptop in your workout clothes. Or maybe your pajamas? (That’s a point for me.) Have you written down any New Year’s resolutions yet?

In order to change something, you must:

  1. articulate the problem and the solution
  2. write down what it is and how you intend to solve it
  3. hold yourself accountable
  4. embrace the consequences of doing or not doing it

I clicked on Ann Voskamp’s website the other day for some New Year’s printables. Wow, do I feel under-organized right now. If you check her out, prepare to be impressed by her beautiful presentation of resolution (she calls them SOULution) sheets. I signed up for the downloads and figured out how to print one out. I made a few copies because I know I will start off unrealistically and need to modify all my resolutions later.

Having looked at my last year’s resolutions and felt somewhat unsuccessful, I’ve decided that I erred in my perspective. I often confuse the terms goals and resolutions. So I looked up both words on Dictionary.com to learn their differences, as well as assuage my guilt for not being completely successful last year. Behold:

  • Goal: a result or achievement toward which effort is directed; an aim; a terminal point
  • Resolution: a formal expression or opinion or intention; a mental state or quality of being resolute; a firmness of purpose; the act or process of separating something into parts

The biggest difference seems to be that a resolution is the action I should take to achieve something, and the goal is the achievement made because I took action. Resolutions need to be about what I can work on, bit by bit, to improve myself and my outreach so that I can arrive at the place I want to be (my goal). My biggest mistake is that I often make goals for what I want to happen, but not for what I can control. Consequently, I am discouraged. Does this distinction help you? It helps me.

This year, I am making a Resolution Sheet and a Goal Sheet. I will write them in a new journal and refer to them as needed. I am determined to work on my resolutions daily and monthly. The goals I have are more fluid. Some for this year, some in 5 years, some in 10 years. This takes the pressure off (thereby releasing me from becoming a workaholic) and helps me hand over all results to God (DUH). For me, allowing space in my goals is a faith decision, not a lack of ambition.

To help you with both concepts, here are a couple categorical ways to make resolutions and goals.

Resolutions:

  • Whole body: physical, spiritual, mental, social
  • Core being: beliefs, thoughts, feelings, actions
  • Four F’s: faith, finance, fitness, family
  • Areas of influence: home, work, school, church, neighborhood, club/committee, hobby

Goals (I’ll use spiritual growth/personal devotions as an example):

  • Daily goals: read Bible and do Bible study book questions; pray
  • Weekly goals: read a couple chapters in a spiritual growth book; church on Sunday
  • Monthly goals: finish 1 spiritual growth book per month (or per 2 months); take a spiritual retreat day to pray, read, and listen to God; serve in a ministry at church at least 1x/mo.
  • Yearly goals: weekend retreat with Bible study group, small group, or attend a conference; give a week to volunteer at a ministry or take a mission trip

The key to setting goals and resolutions is not to approach it legalistically. The objective is the action, not the checklist. It’s about the change inside YOU.

So set some resolutions and goals that will change WHO YOU ARE, not just how you spend your time and energy. (Because that’s why we’re all tired!)