You are the type who approaches life with passion. When you decide to do something, you approach it full force. The problem is, if you find a hiccup or something that is too complicated, you sometimes lose interest and then decide to do something different. That is sometimes how resolutions fall by the wayside.
But, maybe you are the type who keeps it simple, instead. If so, good for you! But, you are wondering if you need to know more about what you are doing, in order to get that success that you crave.
Well, first of all, let’s all breathe and not worry about how we approach things, as a matter of that success or not. I mean, it is important, but let’s not get ourselves tied up in knots, ok? Let’s define a couple of things and then take off on our road to success!
Defining the Components
Many times the word, “goal,” and the word, “resolution,” are used interchangeably. Before we truly understand what we are doing it is helpful to understand how they are the same and how they differ. Once we get that behind us, it is more feasible to move forward, full speed! This is especially true since the setting of these goals or resolutions are the foundation of what we are doing here.
Another way to think of the word goal is to replace it with “target.” It is the desired outcome. It is what you hope to attain.
Sometimes it is easier to think of it as something that you can touch or handle after you have finished the steps toward that accomplishment. In those terms, it is similar to a trophy, or even the carrot that is used to challenge a horse to complete tasks (the cliche about using a carrot…). But, a goal is much more than a trophy and often that outcome is not tangible, but intangible and a sense of well-being and accomplishment.
Whether it is tangible (touchable) or intangible (conceptual), the goal has a finish line. So, when looking at the wording of your goal, ask yourself if there is a finish line. Is there a place where you can say, “it has been accomplished” or “it is finished?”
In addition to asking yourself the question, you can also see if you can insert a timeline on the goal process. If it fits within a timeline, with that definite endpoint, it is possible that it is a goal. You see, you know when you have achieved a goal, and that is part of its definition. Regardless of whether it is a long-term goal or a short-term goal, a goal is a goal, with a timeframe and known endpoint.
Types / Categories of Goals
There may be different categories of goals. So, maybe you are asking yourself questions like “What are your personal learning goals?” Maybe you are evaluating the importance of learning goals as an example of one category of goals. In this case, it would be examples of learning goals for students. Of course, goals are not limited to students.
That is just one example and even within that audience, there may be other types of goals like learning goals for accounting internship or professional goals for an internship, if that is where you are at in the education and career process.
This (learning goals) is an easy topic or category to use as an example, but there are also personal and career goals (i.e. ideas for work goals and career self-development goals), too. So, maybe this is a good point to sit down and make your list of personal goals and see where that leads you, including other categories of goals.
A resolution is like making a promise to yourself. There can be resolutions in multiple categories, but often we associate resolutions with the personal category.
Many times, the personal resolutions are easier to understand because they can encompass other categories, such as career, learning, community, travel, etc.
We can think of resolutions, even if they are in the category of personal resolutions, as having an impact on a certain aspect of your life. We will discuss that more as we compare resolutions to goals.
Understanding the Similarities and Differences
Before we can understand how goals and resolutions work together, we need to understand where their similarities lie. We also need to understand where the similarities end and the differences start. Only then can we understand how they work together.
Similarities Between Goals and Resolutions
The similarities between goals and resolutions is that they both relate to improving your life. Both of these terms relate to planning (if done correctly) how you will achieve what you want to achieve with your life. They can both be used to relate to aspects of your life, be it personal, career, health, travel, etc., even if resolutions tend to be in the personal category, related to the other aspects, while goals are often categorized.
Differences Between Goals and Resolutions
There are differences between goals and resolutions and one of the most obvious differences is that the goals have a definable completion component whereas the resolutions do not. Resolutions can be somewhat general, like “being healthier” whereas a goal statement needs to be more precise, with a measurable outcome, like “lost 30 pounds in six months.”
Goals and Resolutions: A Symbiotic Relationship
Goals and resolutions work together. They are often mentioned together and it makes sense, once you understand their similarities and differences. More importantly, it helps to understand how these two things work together. They have a symbiotic relationship.
It isn’t just about words, it is about the function and purpose that is represented by goal and resolution. Your resolutions directly relate to your goals, when set properly.
A resolution is like the general statement or overview/summary related to the changes desired in your life… where you want to make changes or improvements.
One of my specialties is project management and both of these terms fit within that skill set.
So, when starting with the summary of the desired change (resolution), we can funnel down to success by writing goal statements related to those resolutions.
The resolution is the statement of want or desire as it relates to a change or improvement in our life. Then, we take that statement and derive a goal statement out of it. We can even copy/paste the resolution statement on the next line, as our goal, and then start modifying it to be a goal.
The key is that the goal needs to have some defined endpoint. There needs to be some way to determine when a goal has been reached.
Once we have goal statements (or a statement) related to each resolution, we can break down those goal statements into steps that it would take to reach the goal. Those would be our activities or tasks.
So, in order to maximize our success, now that we understand goals and resolutions, we need to understand the funnel, which is a peek into project management:
- Set your overview/summary resolution statement.
- Modify that statement to have a measurable endpoint, knowing when it has been reached – that is your goal statement.
- Create a list of tasks that need to be done in order to reach the goal statement.
- Schedule those tasks and activities on your calendar. Or, you may want to track them in a spreadsheet. Track your successes!
- You are on your way to accomplishing and succeeding with your resolutions.
A goal without a plan is just a wish. -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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We will discuss it in future articles in this series, but many times the reason that we do not succeed with our resolutions is simply that we haven’t taken that first step, in defining the goal statement(s) that accompanies those resolutions. You see it? Great! You are on that path to success!
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Bonus: Ideas for Best 100 Life Goals (Goal Activity Example)
- Personal / Personality Life Goals
- more pleasant attitude
- extend grace (kindness) to 20 more people than I would otherwise
- forgive 20 people more than I would otherwise forgive
- more confident
- practice daily affirmations
- realize life’s accomplishments
- record those life accomplishments
- review the recording of life accomplishments
- proactive in future goal-setting
- more organized
- stronger presentation of self
- less weakminded
- defined strategic approach to life
- record how time is used
- analyze how time is used
- take time management course
- manage the future use of time
- decide on priorities
- organize life according to defined priorities
- analyze the focus of time and energy according to defined priorities
- Health and Fitness Goals
- overall better health
- lose x pounds
- exercise daily, aerobically
- strength train daily
- develop an accountability system for health
- measure body circumference to track improvements
- record health changes
- record health steps
- participate in a local health event
- sign up for a local fitness event
- join a gym
- take a class that involves fitness
- learn how to eat in a way that benefits the body
- measure what is eaten
- overhaul (or start) a recipe system
- acquire the tools need to prepare food
- budget for a night out as a reward for reaching health goals
- join an accountability group
- run / jog / walk with your accountability group
- purchase fitness DVDs
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- Career Goals
- define where to be in career path
- make strategic plans on how to get to career goal
- apply to organizations that meet the career objectives
- consider interning or volunteering
- develop a networking plan
- connect with 50 people on LinkedIn
- spend more time networking with coworkers
- attend at least two corporate social events per month
- become close friends (socially) with at least two coworkers
- help to organize charity events on behalf of your company
- hire a virtual assistant to help you get organized
- improve your leadership skills
- apply your learned leadership skills
- purchase books related to your career
- sign up for training courses related to your career
- attend two conferences this year
- add 100 people to your “rolodex” of contacts
- contact five people to ask for a “favor”
- develop your email marketing strategy
- apply your email marketing strategy
- Learning Goals
- make a list of things to learn
- take a college course
- take a community course
- sign up for an independent study course
- list all of the courses taken
- review the courses taken
- add the courses taken to LinkedIn profile
- add the courses taken to personal website
- write up a profession profile that represents what has been learned
- make a list of places where classes should be taken
- research the schools to find the best schools
- make a list of online training sites
- budget for the best online learning options
- purchase used books from ebay or amazon
- suggest to family (i.e. parents) that you may want their books, rather than discarding them
- determine what area of expertise is represented by what has been learned
- represent that area of expertise to the rest of the world!
- consider becoming a tutor, coach, teacher in the area of expertise
- provide a testimonial for the education facility where you learned what you learned
- consider networking with others in the field
- Other Goals
- define social skills
- acquire social skills
- improve social skills
- travel to three countries
- acquire knowledge of five other cultures
- learn another language
- practice the learned language
- write in a journal
- expand on the journal writing
- participate in weekly community activity
- volunteer for a community organization
- donate to a food bank
- donate to a thrift store
- offer to babysit a child or pet
- offer to drive someone somewhere for free
- improve on recycling program
- organize a community event
- organize a holiday community event
- organize a charity event
- donate time in a way that is beneficial, but pulls on the schedule
Measuring Your Success
Part of measuring your success is actually tracking your success. In this case, tracking your activities.
You know how we mentioned that using resolutions and goals is related to methods used in project management? Well, here is your opportunity to use what you have learned and actually practice it.
The example that we will be using is the list of goals, above, which are simply there for an example. Now, I used the word goal, but did you notice something? From what we have learned today, they are not all goals, are they? In other words, there is not necessarily an endpoint defined by what is named as a goal, in that list.
So, here is your challenge, should you agree to the challenge.
Go through the lest and modify those that are not goals (which are quite a few!) and make them into goals. A couple of them have been done for you, with numbers added to them. That is a little trick. For example, rather than just saying “become more forgiving” you can add a number, as we did, and say “forgive x number of people.” By doing that, you have a definable endpoint to your goal and it becomes a goal. WIthout that, it may be a resolution, as in, become a more forgiving person, but it is not a goal.
Now, once you have added what we call in psychology, a metric, to each item of the list, you have something to use for planning. You may want to copy the list (after you have modified it to match YOUR goals) into a spreadsheet. Break down each goal into steps that would be required to reach that particular goal. This contributes to our learning about goals, our goals. If you add a date to each goal statement and track your progress, you have just started on that path to measurable success. And, you are applying project management methodologies to your resolutions and goals :). You can’t help but succeed because now you are tracking it, strategizing it, and accomplishing it!