Whether opting for goals or resolutions, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. (Contributed)

As a new year approaches, many people find themselves inspired by the idea of a fresh start, and contemplate the changes they want to make in their lives. Along with that enthusiasm comes the question—should I set goals or make resolutions?

While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they carry distinct meanings and approaches to personal development. So let’s discuss the differences between goals and resolutions and things to consider when choosing which is best for you.

Goals and Resolutions Defined

A goal is defined as “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.” On the other hand, a resolution is defined as “a firm decision to do or not to do something.”

Goals are like a roadmap guiding you toward a specific destination. They are tangible, measurable objectives that provide clarity and focus. Whether short-term or long-term, goals allow you to break down your aspirations into manageable steps. 

Resolutions, on the other hand, are more about adopting new habits or making fundamental lifestyle changes. They often involve a broader mindset shift and are less specific than goals. Resolutions aim to address overarching themes, such as improving health, enhancing relationships, or achieving a better work-life balance.

Choosing Between Goals and Resolutions

Now that we understand the distinctions, the next step is to choose whether goals or resolutions are more suitable for your personal growth journey. Here are some factors to consider:

How Clear Is Your Desired Outcome?

If you have a clear, well-defined outcome in mind, goals may be the preferred choice. They provide a structured path with specific milestones, making it easier to measure progress.

Behavioral Changes

If your focus is on changing habits or embracing a new way of living, resolutions may be more appropriate. Resolutions allow for flexibility and adaptability, as they are about fostering a holistic transformation.


Goals often have a set timeframe for achievement, while resolutions are ongoing commitments. Consider whether your objectives are better suited for a specific timeframe or if they require a more continuous effort.

Motivation Style

Reflect on what motivates you and what has worked well in the past. If you thrive on accomplishing concrete tasks and celebrating milestones, goals may be motivating. If you prefer a more fluid, adaptable approach, resolutions might resonate with you.

Tips for Success

Regardless of whether you choose goals or resolutions, here are some practical tips to enhance your chances of success:

1. Start Small: Begin with manageable objectives to build momentum and confidence. Small wins create a positive feedback loop that encourages continued effort.

2. Create a Plan: Outline the steps needed to achieve your goals or implement your resolutions. A well-thought-out plan provides structure and direction.

3. Stay Flexible: Life is unpredictable, and circumstances may change. Be willing to adapt your goals or resolutions as needed while keeping the overarching vision in mind.

4. Seek Support: Share your aspirations with friends, family, a mentor, or counselor. Having a support system can provide encouragement, guidance, and accountability.

Whether you opt for goals or resolutions, remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and the most important factor is finding a path that resonates with you and helps you make improvements in your life. My hope for you is you enjoy a year of health, happiness and joy.

Maaliea Wilbur, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, is Founder and CEO of TherapyWorks. For more information, visit mytherapyworks.com.

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Maaliea Wilbur, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, is Founder and CEO of TherapyWorks. For more information, visit mytherapyworks.com.


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