The new year is upon us and everywhere you look, people are making resolutions and setting goals. Which do you do? Have you had success with them in the past? Chances are if you have gone with resolutions in the past, it probably didn't go so well. Setting goals instead allows us to be much more successful.
The reason why goals lead to more success than resolutions is the same as why diets aren't as successful as learning better eating habits. All or nothing just isn't going to work. You can think you're an all or nothing person all you want, but the fact of it is that barring some sort of trauma or neurological condition you quite simply aren't going to wake up a completely different person overnight. Yet that is what most resolutions center on, is BIG sudden changes. Resolutions, like "going on a diet" are setting you up to fail.
As discussed in a previous post, that's just not how real change happens. Learning is gradual and has room for mistakes. Setting goals allows you to set bite sized short term goals on the way to the bigger long term goal (gradually) and has room for mistakes. You fall off your bike when you are learning to ride it, you don't simply put away the bike and say you failed. You're working towards a goal- to ride the bike! You aren't going to quit! So what if you didn't successful on the first try? You just keep trying until you get it. That's how goals are. Though a good goal has a target date, there's no actual failing. You keep trying until you get it. You make progress until you do achieve the goal.
The only down side with goals is they can take a little more time to really flesh out. Resolutions are usually quick and simple. One resolution. Black and white. Good goals are more specific, where am I going and how am I going to get there? What are the first steps to reaching this goal? Goals involve more careful consideration and deep thinking about what is realistic and what your reason is for choosing those goals. They require mapping out the different steps along the way that get you to the end result. That takes a bit more time, effort, and mental energy but the results are worth it.
Just like with learning better eating habits, which is one type of goal, there is no failing unless you quit, and mistakes are progress because you learned something from them. If you've already made resolutions this year, I challenge you to translate them into goals! Little changes add up, and you get to celebrate every step along the way. Write them down, make them specific and measurable, and very importantly make them realistic. If you have a BIG goal, it may take longer than a year to get there, and that's ok. So just be honest with yourself, start with a tiny step better than where you are, and built from there.