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by Scott Bay

February 1, 2016

What’s the difference and how do they work together?

This time of year, many of us reflect back on the past year and think about what we’d like to do in the year ahead of us. Sometimes we start off with by making a New Year’s resolution. We’ve all heard them many times and you’ve likely even made one or two yourself over the years. Resolutions typically address a desire for self-betterment, such as losing weight, eating better, exercising more, volunteering, learning something new, quitting smoking or another bad habit, and so on.

What you’ll notice is that common resolutions are nothing more than goal statements: decisions to do or not do something. All of these are noble goals and are geared towards living a happier and healthier life, but how often are these resolutions broken? Nearly always because they’re simple statements without a road map for success. But they don’t have to be that way.

Be Resolute in Your Resolutions

Resolutions and being resolute are two different things but they can help one another. Let’s break it down.

A resolution:

  • Is a goal statement—a decision without action
  • Lacks a plan
  • Is typically a pass/fail situation
  • Is typically time bound (i.e. I’m going to lose 20 pounds by summer.)
  • Often lacks a means of measurement

Being resolute:

  • Means being purposeful and determined
  • Isn’t just setting a goal but having a plan for achieving it
  • Is a commitment to changing a way of being and behaving, not just a desire to try to change
  • Is a process
  • Is being mindful of how success will be measured
  • Changes the way you behave not just this year but for years to come 

Are they completely different? No, they work together: be resolute in your resolutions if you want to keep them. Simply having a goal is not enough. Consider the following keys to being resolute with your resolution:

  • Be both thoughtful and realistic. Consider what your goal is and whether it’s achievable and can be done based on the current demands on your life. If it’s not currently achievable, can you manage or change those demands, or must you alter your goal to accommodate the unchangeable forces you must live with?
  • Share your resolution. Having cheerleaders in your corner will help you be accountable to yourself. You’ll also find new friends in a community of like-minded people that will become a new source of support. So tell someone what you’re trying to do and ask for their support.
  • Celebrate milestones. If the goal is a sub-7-minute 500-yard swim and you’re currently swimming a 7:30, celebrate every time drop, whether it’s 1 second, 5, 10, or more. Just be sure that your means of celebration supports your goal rather than undoes it (i.e. maybe skip that big slice of cake as a celebratory treat and opt for a less calorific way of acknowledging that you’re closer than before to reaching your goal.)
  • Filter all of your decisions through your resolution. If your goal is to lose weight, ask yourself whether you really need that dessert or second beer. Or do I really need to skip my workout just because my day is busy?
  • Become focused on your new life. Change is good but transitions are often difficult. The way you feel and the new life you’ve committed to will become a positive part of your life and it’s OK to crave that and even need it. Self improvement can be a positive addiction!

At the end of the year, it doesn’t matter whether you started on January 1, February 13, or June 16—all that matters this that you were resolute with your resolution.


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