What’s The Difference Between Goals And Resolutions

It’s that time of year again.  The beginning of the year when you look at the next chapter of your life. A chapter that has not been written yet.  You begin thinking about what you want to accomplish in the new year. 

“The New Year stands before us like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written, we can help write that story by setting goals”
Warren McLaren

Many people make resolutions, but few people accomplish them.  I know people who never make resolutions because the disappointment of never accomplishing them is just too painful.

Understanding the difference between resolutions and goals will help you create a roadmap of successfully reaching your resolutions.

While these two words are often used interchangeable, the fact is that these terms have some key and subtle differences. Let’s take a look at the difference between goals and resolutions. 


A goal is your target. It's a desired outcome that you hope to attain. Goals have a definite and precise end point. You'll know when you've achieved your goal. You can place a timeframe on them. There are both short-term and long-term goals you set for yourself. Goals can also fall into various categories among the different aspects of your life. For example, you can set career, relationship or personal goals.


Resolutions on the other hand are the high-level trajectory we'd like to take with our lives. A resolution is a promise to yourself, and it's something that's usually more open-ended than a specific goal. Making a resolution usually entails altering some aspect of your life, such as eating healthier, focusing on loved ones more or seeing your business grow.

How They’re Related

These two terms actually go hand-in-hand. That's why they're so often referenced together. Your resolutions are made up of goals. The resolution is the overarching theme or the implied direction you wish to take with your life. The goals are the activities that fall within the theme or the specific steps to take you to that place. If you resolve to lose weight or eat healthier, which is probably the most common New Year's Resolution, you need to set goals for how you will accomplish such a wish. Without goals, resolutions often go unmet and lead to guilt and frustration.

You may have experienced starting the year off with confidence that you will achieve your resolutions, only to have it fall flat and be left behind within a month or two. That's natural and is typical human behavior. We attend to what's immediately in front of us. Setting goals and checking in with them on a regular basis keeps them at the forefront of your mind, making those resolutions more likely to become a reality.

Essentially, a resolution is something you will constantly be working toward, while a goal is specific and finite. Resolutions are made up of goals. They are relevant and intertwined.

Creating specific goals which are small and easily obtainable is a big step in successfully achieving your resolutions.

Now that you understand the difference in the two terms, you can see why just setting resolutions often fail.  Resolutions without goals is a formula for failure.  Take time to formalize your resolutions and then begin creating goals to attain your resolutions.

Here’s to a wonderfully successful new year!

To learn how to plan out your resolutions and goals, sign up for my free Triumphant Goal Setting 5-day course.  Each day you will receive a quick training and an action item so by the end of 5 days you have completed the planning of your most important resolution.

Get started today.

Triumphant Goal Setting

About The Author

Bethany Sunny

Bethany Sunny is a Speaker, Author and Marketing Coach with over 25 years of business experience. She shows driven entrepreneurs how to become more visible so they can attract more clients, make more money and grow their business fast. Connect with her on Facebook.

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