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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

How To Tell The Difference Between Resolutions and Goals

It’s the end of one year, 2012 and the beginning of the next, 2013.

What will be different about it for you?

Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution that didn’t get shared with another person?

Sometimes, New Year’s resolutions become more social conversation than actual goal-setting exercises. You might actually be one of those rare people who establish a resolution BEFORE someone asks you about it. If so, how long do you think you can go before you let someone else know about it/them? A day? A week?

People make resolutions to shore up some shortcoming in their lives. Resolutions are not as powerful as goals because goals, when set right, include a mechanism of accountability and measurement that move you toward some desirable outcome. You gain much more power and accelerate your progress when you strive for something positive rather than trying to avoid that thing you don’t want to happen (again).

Resolution Examples

  1. To spend less time online

  2. To read some great books

  3. To lose weight

  4. To make more friends

Here are those same resolutions turned into a more powerful goal:

  1. I will check my email 3 times daily and reply to everything I can immediately. I will spend 1 hour per day on Facebook and net surfing.

  2. I will spend 1 hour per day reading. I will start with Good To Great by Jim Collins and I will finish it in Janaury and start another book in February, which I will have selected by January 15th.

  3. I currently weigh 200 pounds. I will adjust my diet (more detail here) and exercise one hour daily to weigh 260 pounds by 12/31/2011.

  4. I will ask two of my friends to introduce me to two of their friends I don’t currently know.

See the difference between avoiding something negative and persuing something positive? The difference between trying to adjust the negative and having a proactive measureable plan to achieve the positive?

Here are some tips to transform your weak resolutions into powerful goals.

  1. Don’t just think about it: Don’t allow your light resolutions to remain in your thoughts, put them down on paper. Write them down and keep them with you every place you go. This constant reminder will help you and will neurologically re-enforce your goals more than you can imagine.

  2. Think Big: Give yourself permission to believe in yourself. What would you do if you knew success was guaranteed? What role do you want for yourself in life?

  3. Be positive: Be sure to decide and declare what you want to move toward, not what you want to move away from.

  4. Be specific: Goals are no place to waffle! Do not be vague, get as much clarity as you can!

  5. Make them measureable: Put a metric in (10 pounds, 1 hour, etc). Our goals should be such that we know when we are advancing and by how much.

  6. Be action-oriented: No good intentions! Have the next step planned enough in advance that you can move on to it.

  7. Be realistic: Be REAL with yourself, make sure the goal is tough enough to challenge you, but also something you can realistically accomplish, too much failure will make you sour. You need a WIN from time-to-time.

  8. Time element: Make sure you give yourself deadlines to hit and time frames to work within. If we didn’t have time to contend with, we would always put things off. The deadline will help you be as diligent you can be to achieve your goal.

Finally, don’t set goals you think that you “should have”. Make sure your goals are designed with what you truly desire and have in mind for yourself, not others. Don’t let others expectations of you dictate your goals. The steps I outlined may seem slightly complicated to you, but actually they are not. The secret to achievement is to keep it as simple as possible, keep at it until you have it simple and clear and then above all, take action every day all year long.

Make 2013 the year you make your dreams start to come true.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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