Distinguishing Goals and Resolutions

We’re about a month into 2013…hard to believe, eh? I wanted to see how those resolutions are coming along.

Don’t worry if you didn’t set any resolutions – there’s still time. Or if you’ve already forgotten about them, you can start again. The important part of resolutions is having something you want work toward that’s important to you.

I know, I know . . . there are anti-resolution people out there. People who will tell you resolutions are for losers. I tend to think of resolutions like goals. Actions I want to accomplish in the upcoming year. And having goals is valuable.

Not sure about it? Here’s a common example of a situation where people should have some goals/resolutions:

During a job interview, the recruiter asks “Where do you see yourself in five years?” (Yes, I know it’s not the most imaginative interview question, but it’s a very common one.) I can’t imagine a person saying, “I just take things as they come. Setting goals for personal and professional growth is for losers.” Additionally, I honestly don’t see a recruiter responding with, “You are exactly the kind of person this company needs. An employee with no aspirations for the future.”

Of course I’m being tongue and cheek with the example but, truth be told, we all have things we want to accomplish. It might be something personal or professional. Think of those things as your resolutions/goals.

The key to being successful with goals is creating and managing them properly.

Set goals that are important to you. If you create a goal based upon what the cool kids are doing, it’s not really your goal. Paul Hebert wrote a very interesting post about goal setting titled “Today is Yesterday’s Tomorrow.” It talks about commitment to goals.

Create a realistic number of goals. Most people can’t accomplish dozens and dozens of goals. It’s better to have a small number of goals and achieve them instead of hundreds of goals that are left undone. Alicia Arenas wrote about this in a New Year’s post “My Ikebana Un-Resolution.”  It’s from last year but still holds true today. Check it out.

Establish a manageable timeline for achieving your goals. I’m totally convinced part of the reason people don’t accomplish their resolutions is because they try to start a handful of things at the same time. You’ve probably seen this too – people who quit smoking, start a diet and exercise program, and a Spanish language course all at the same time. Let’s face it…that’s too much change at one time. Schedule goals over a span of time. Pick the Brain blog discusses this in their post “Goodbye New Year’s Resolutions, Hello Monthly Habits.”

Allow for flexibility as conditions change. As dedicated as we may be toward accomplishing our goals, sometimes external forces decide to wreak havoc on our lives. Instead of beating ourselves up that our goals aren’t progressing, we should step back and re-evaluate the goal. It could be that the goal is fine, we just need to give it a little bit more effort. Or maybe the goal needs a little tweaking.

My guess is everyone has something they want to accomplish. Maybe they just don’t call it a resolution or a goal. The word is immaterial. Taking the time to think about the stuff you want to do in the future is important. And if that’s once a year in December or January, that’s cool. As long as it gets done.

P.S. If you like the idea of turning your goals into habits, there’s a terrific book in the SHRM Store – The Power of Habit. This could be a wonderful read for an internal book club to help the organization develop good habits in 2013.



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