It’s that time of year again where we make a list of things to accomplish in the upcoming year. And 365 days from now, most of us will fail at achieving most of those things on that list. The reason isn’t because I’m a cynic. The reason is that most New Year’s resolutions aren’t resolutions at all. Most New Year’s resolutions are actually superficial goals like losing weight, or making more money, or finding the love of your life. For a New Year’s resolution to be successful, it needs to be developed from, and be aligned with internal values like health, responsibility, and openness rather than exterior benchmarks like how much you weigh, how much money you have, or hoping your next date looks like a model.
Although resolutions and goals are not opposing concepts, they are different. A resolution is a declaration of intent, purpose, or values. A goal is a benchmark, or an end result that one wants to achieve. I would make the argument that resolutions determine which goals will be set, and the manner in which those goals should be achieved. Let’s use the popular (and mislabeled) resolution of weight loss as an example to illustrate this point. The difference between a resolution and a goal, in this sense, is akin to the difference between eating healthy and staying fit (resolution) versus trying to achieve an ideal weight (goal). If one eats healthy food and exercises regularly, achieving one’s ideal weight is a likely byproduct. On the other hand, it is possible for one to achieve their ideal weight, but accomplish it in an unhealthy and unfit manner, especially if one is not resolute on being healthy. In other words, losing weight is a goal, not a resolution.
For a resolution to really work, you have to first be aligned with your internal values. Resolutions typically start with the statement, “I resolve to…” You are making a declaration of your life purpose, and your internal values. You are declaring how you want to live your life, not just what you want in the upcoming year. Going back to the weight loss analogy, your resolution would be, “I resolve to life a healthy lifestyle.” It will be easier for you to eat healthy, and to stay fit if being healthy is one of your core values than if you do not have health as a core value. You can easily apply this concept to money and love. Instead of saying, “I want to save $10,000 by the end of the year,” try saying, “I resolve to be financially responsible.” Instead of saying, “I want to find the love of my life this year,” try saying, “I resolve to be open to love.” I think you get the picture.
When coming up with your list of things to accomplish this year, check your internal compass first. Get your bearings straight. From there, develop a few resolutions to match those values. Then develop a list of goals that matches those values, and the necessary actions steps to achieve those goals. Approaching your resolutions in this way will help you achieve your goals, and make sure you stay in integrity with your values… and maybe help you shed a few pounds, make some money, and find the love of your life.