Resolutions vs. Goals
First of all, what is the difference between a resolution and a goal? Why is it not called a new year’s goal? A resolution is a “firm decision” and a goal is simply a desire. Goals are kind of abstract, not tethered to any actions. Frankly, we should make all our “goals” into resolutions. Once we decide to do something, let’s follow-through. I would love for “procrastinating culture” to die out.
Who started the trend of only creating resolutions for the new year? I want to start the trend of birthday resolutions and maybe eventually, monthly resolutions. Too much happens in one year for us to only reflect at the end. Also, people view their years differently around the holidays.
The most common resolution of all relates to working out. They are defined by losing “x” amount of pounds or how frequently you want to workout. I could go on a whole rant about weight-loss culture, but I will save that for another post. If you don’t read that post or I forget to write it, just repeat after me “it is just a number”.
Do you feel healthy? Are you happy? If you said yes to both, who cares how much you weigh? Honestly, we should never know the number. Also, a diet is just the kind of food that you eat. Everyone has a diet, but not everyone has a weight-loss diet.
Back to resolutions. We need to start creating resolutions in different categories. Yes, there should always be a health-related resolution. On top of that, there should be a self-awareness resolution, a financial resolution, a family & friends resolution, and a career resolution that all work together to provide your daily motivation.
Health-related resolutions should not be limited to weight-focused. No one should be exempt. An obtainable health-related resolution for most people is to go on a daily walk. No expectation for how long your walk has to be or how fast you have to walk. If you choose to go on this walk alone, it may be easy for you to think about your self-awareness resolution as you walk.
Another idea of health-related resolutions can be about what you are putting into your body: your diet. You can decide to switch out the massive bowl of ice cream for apples & peanut butter one night. You can decide to eat vegetarian lunches but still eat meat at dinner or when you are out. You can decide you never really liked eating salad and switch that out for sauteed veggies.
Lastly, a health-related resolution can be a mental health resolution. Yes, please read that again. A resolution that is health-related does not need to be physical. Have you been really stressed at work? Try meditation. Do you feel overwhelmed on Friday nights as I do? Join me in starting a trend of self-care Thursdays for long showers, face masks, reading, painting your nails, etc. If none of these are speaking to you, pick one night a week to have an early bedtime.
Some of these ideas are my specific health resolutions. I think you should have at least one in each category, but I have one per subcategory as well. I am trying to go on daily walks, eat vegetarian lunches, and implement self-care Thursdays.
I think the newest type of resolution is self-awareness. First of all, I think the idea of being self-aware seems to be the most popular with millennials and younger generations. If you think I’m wrong, comment below. In order to have a self-awareness resolution, you need to identify something about yourself that could use improvement. For example, I am not a patient person. I have been actively working on my patience by testing out intermittent fasting. I get really hangry and every time I do, I try to identify different ways I can react without showing my true blood-boiling emotions.
If you were graced with patience at birth, write a list of your strengths and weaknesses. By recognizing these, you can narrow in on something you can work on. Is it how you react in certain situations? Put yourself in someone else’s shoes to see how they view your strengths.
Another example of a self-awareness resolution I have is trying not to come off as a know-it-all. I have a lot of ideas. Just because you think you have the answer, does not mean you should always present your ideas as statements. Sometimes I like to phrase my thoughts as questions because I have noticed they are received better than if I were to make a suggestion out-right.
The next type of resolution is financial. No matter what your current financial state is, you should have a resolution of a budget. Your budget should be monthly & yearly. If you are in debt, try to work out a resolution for the end of 2021. Where would you like to be?
Obviously, debt-free, but that is not attainable for most of us. Create a plan for your budget that includes your debt repayment and stick to it. With every purchase, you should have your end of year financial resolution in mind to motivate you to stay on track.
Other types of financial goals could include investments, savings, and really looking at your budget. My friends & family know how strict I am with my budget. I use google sheets & the mint app to track all of my purchases. I try to do a weekly pulse check to see how much more I have to spend in the rest of the month. This allows me to pivot on my budget if one area is trending higher than I had planned.
I think this strict management has allowed me to stay stress-free, even though I graduated with a lot of student loans. I have a plan to pay them off and as long as I stick to my monthly budgets, I will hit my year end resolution of what I wanted to pay off. Once I hit my year end resolution, I feel accomplished. I see the amount of debt I was able to repay instead of the total sum remaining.
Some people think of financial resolutions as having a fancy investment portfolio. I think it is as simple as having a budget and sticking to it. Once you can handle your budget, you can enhance these resolutions to work toward that fancy investment portfolio.
Some budget tips I will share: Never budget the total amount of money you will be making. You need to be prepared for unexpected expenses. Always include savings in your budget. If you want to be more detail-oriented like me you can split your savings out into categories: investment, long term, short term, and travel.
By adding savings into your budget, if for some reason you are going to be over budget, you will be prepared. You will not be faced with the possibility of having no money in your account to deal with the challenge. Your “over budget” spending will come out of that month’s savings. It is not ideal, but it is not stressful.
Friends & Family
A type of resolution that not many people have, but probably should, is for friends & family. This type of resolution should be about how you connect with your friends & family and how often. A friends & family resolution is mostly about planning. While creating your schedule, remember to include 1 weeknight dinner to catch up with friends or one hour on Sundays to call your grandmas. It can become planning a girls’ vacation or weekend away.
The point of having resolutions is so there is attention to the aspects of our lives that matter the most. By having a friends & family resolution, you will make sure your loved ones are front and center which is where they always should be.
Last, but not least, are your career resolutions. This type of resolution is last because it may not be applicable to everyone. There are some people who have jobs but do not want careers. The difference in my mind is that some people think of work as a way to pay the bills. There is no specific end game. If they are noticed and promoted, the extra money is nice, but there is no rush or attention to moving upward.
A career, on the other hand, involves more attention to detail. With a career, people have specific priorities and goals to ultimately move upward. Most people have a job, not everyone will have a career, but anyone can have a career if they choose to.
I recently read “How to Be Great at Your Job” by Justin Kerr. I would recommend 10/10. It is a quick read. One of the sections talked about setting monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals. I would debate that he meant resolutions, but the timing of these is important. Some resolutions take time. If one of your yearly resolutions is about networking and creating stronger relationships. Create monthly resolutions on how you can achieve your greater resolution.
Another monthly resolution I have created for myself is about my learning plan. I am trying to improve my skill set. This month’s resolution is focusing on excel. I want to become an expert in every aspect of excel. Some other resolutions have included managing up and learning more about managing in general. Understanding different managing styles will also help demonstrate your leadership and communication skills. I do not have a direct report, yet, but these skills will also help you manage a coworker, a boss, etc.
#1 Resolution Type
If you feel like you only have enough time to pick one type of resolution, I would pick self-awareness. Self-awareness resolutions will impact the rest of your life by nature. These resolutions can be the ones that help you identify why you mostly procrastinate or cannot follow through with your other resolutions.
Please note, I intentionally referenced all of these as resolutions. As I mentioned in the introduction, we need to start upgrading our goals from desires to firm decisions.
CHALLENGE: Implement birthday resolutions. Start with adding 1 extra time of year to think of adding 1 more resolution to your plate.
DOUBLE CHALLENGE: Create 5 new resolutions: Health-Related, Self- Awareness, Financial, Friends & Family, and Career.
TRIPLE CHALLENGE: Create sub-category resolutions after 3 months of working toward your 5 main resolutions.
Don’t wait for new years’ or your birthday when you can start today.