Words Matter: Resolution vs Goal

Slide1Happy New Year!  Many people talk about New Year’s Resolutions each January.  I personally love the new year because I feel like it’s a fresh start with tons of potential ahead.  Some people also love the new year and making a choice to do something differently this year.  It’s about a new accomplishment, a new habit, or a new skill, for example.

Maybe I’m just noticing it more this year, but I keep hearing so much about setting “New Year’s Goals” rather than “New Year’s Resolutions.”  So, being who I am, I decided to ponder this and look up some definitions.  It sparked some interest in me that this was such an apparently important distinction so many were trying to make.  What’s the big deal?  Isn’t it just semantics here?


a decision or determination; 

the act of determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.

to resolve: 

to come to a definite or earnest decision about


the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.

I’m still not seeing a distinctively big difference in the definitions.  So I thought perhaps the cultural interpretations are the issue here.  Is resolution more intimidating to the masses?  Does goal seem more doable?

From what I have heard and read there is much talk about resolutions setting us up for failure, shame, and guilt when we indeed don’t follow through or otherwise come to the end of the year without much to show for this resolution.  Goal on the other hand, is said to be more tangible, more realistic, and more likely to be attained.

Sorry.  I  don’t buy it.

Here is what I think the problem is.  We, at least in our culture, are not very good at followthrough.  We aren’t very good at perseverance.  We aren’t very good at making necessary changes.  Therefore, we either make wonderfully exciting resolutions and give up on them rather quickly or we decide that making them is just setting ourselves up for failure. So why bother? Are we afraid to determine to do something?  To make a decision?

Somehow the word goal feels better and doesn’t sound as much like I have to do it.  Perhaps goals offer less pressure.  Then if we don’t accomplish them, we don’t feel as much like we failed again.

Maybe which word we use isn’t the real problem.  Perhaps it’s about being realistic and honest about our lives.  Where are we now?  Where do we want to be?  What are realistic changes that need to be made to get there?  Plus do New Year’s Resolutions/Goals have to be huge and life-changing?  Not always.  We also don’t need fifty of them either.

Maybe if we jot down a couple of areas we would like to change or grow in, and a couple of ways to do so then we won’t care which word we use to label them.  Perhaps by July we’ll need to jot down a few more ideas because we are kind of getting the hang of the first couple.

New Year’s Resolutions are about the whole year.  If the end of January comes, and you haven’t lost any weight or cleaned out the closets yet, fret not!  You still have more months to go.  Even if it takes you to December to get there, isn’t that at least some progress?  Habits take time to form, and many times it is a long process to get to the better habit we are looking to adopt.

There is always more room for growth.  There will always be a way to improve and enjoy life even more while investing more in eternity as we go.  Whether you want to use the word resolution or goal, I pray you can find an honest and attainable way to grow in this new year.  And I pray you will rely on the Lord to do it.

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NASB)

Categories: Words Matter Series


  • Kellie says:

    A big AMEN, very well said! We need to remember the most important thing about that ever ‘new’ year the change we are approaching isn’t going to just happen. As with every thing, time spent in it, is time well spent.
    As for me… my New Year word has become ‘Crossroad’… as the old year draws nears and the new is dawning, I am looking at a Crossroad I my life. Did I travel well this past 12 months, am I seeing where He is pointing or calling me? Will I make the choice is turn in His direction more this with this new dawning, at this Crossroad?
    Yes Lord this is a new start, a new beginning… As is each new day.. I pray to be more watchful with Your eyes & with better tuned ears to hear You call at this Crossroad… lead the way Lord, and help me when I fall, help keep me focused on the road ahead of me Holy Spirit.

    • demgoldenapples says:

      I agree. The new year is such a great time to evaluate. However I know some who do this every year on or around the birthday. Either way, it can be so helpful!

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