Set Goals — Not Resolutions

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As the year comes to a close, and we celebrate holidays with our families, there’s another season right around the corner waiting to grab our attention — “resolution season.” Emboldened by the flip of the calendar and a desire for change, it’s the time when many of us set about choosing our New Year's resolution du jour. Making those resolutions — no problem; it’s keeping them where we lose traction.

The statistics aren’t very favourable; 90-plus per cent of New Year's resolutions are entirely abandoned by February. Those numbers are sobering, but why is that, and why, Brett, should we be setting goals instead?

Why Resolutions Don't Work

Well, I'm glad you asked — even if I asked for you! Resolutions dissipate so quickly because they often lack substance, as well as the planning and defining power that make goal-setting so impactful. Resolutions identify what you hope to accomplish; well-intentioned as they may be, seldom do they identify the why and the how, so it's really not surprising that they get lost along the way.

It’s not very shocking that the most popular New Year's resolutions involve fitness and health. Given the punishment we put our bodies through over the holiday eating extravaganza, most of us are ready for a reset. Many people set the resolution out of a desire to get away from feeling physically awful, rather than moving towards positive changes in their lives.

Refined, Saskatoon, Brett Skrupski, Life Coach, Coaching, Goals, Setting Goals, Life Coaches

When we further explore common resolutions, similar favourites show up — quit smoking, be less stressed, get out of debt, and watch less TV. You’ll notice that all these resolutions have a common theme — avoidance. We are working to avoid difficult or unwanted feelings or situations by resolving ourselves to do the opposite. While avoidance may seem to be a why, it stems from a mindset of scarcity and lack, and seldom do we accomplish great things when that is our starting point.

Why Goals Work Better than Resolutions

Goals and goal-setting, on the other hand, focus on positively moving forward to achieve our desired outcomes. The process requires us to be introspective, and through that introspection, we gain insight as to why we want to accomplish those goals.  Working with like-minded colleagues or coaches, we gain accountability and direction (the how) necessary to succeed. Goals demand more of us because they require thought, action and effort put into what we're accomplishing, and are reinforced by our strong why for doing it.

If setting resolutions is part of your yearly routine, by no means am I calling it lacklustre.  Rather, I'm asking you to ask more of yourself. Don't move forward into next year with a focus on what you want to avoid. Forge ahead strongly with defined notions of what you plan to achieve, backed by an impactful why with a plan that identifies how.

Not sure where to start? That’s why coaches like me exist — to aid you in asking more of yourself — because that's what you truly deserve.