If you’re like most people, you’ve come up with more than a few resolutions in your lifetime. You have probably also realized that many resolutions fall to the wayside as the newness of another year fades. Wanting to change but failing to do so can make you feel discouraged, disheartened, and hopeless. Luckily, you don’t have to set resolutions at the beginning of a new year in order to evoke positive change in your life. You can set goals instead. Even though resolutions and goals help promote positive change, research shows that setting goals are typically more powerful than creating resolutions.
Goal-setting can be particularly powerful when you’re overcoming addiction. By understanding how to set measurable and actionable goals, you can increase the likelihood that your recovery will be sustainable and long-lasting. In this article, we’re going to explore the difference between resolutions and goals and why goal-setting is so important in long-term recovery.
The Differences Between Goals and Resolutions
The dictionary defines a resolution as “a firm decision to do or not do something.” Common synonyms for resolution include:
In many ways, a resolution is something we hope for and decide to do.
A goal, according to the dictionary, is “the object of a person’s ambition or effort.” A goal is also defined as “an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envision, plan, and commit to achieve.” Popular synonyms for goal include:
Even though the definitions of resolutions and goals are similar, goals are defined by something that a resolution lacks, that is, ambition or effort. In other words, resolutions are statements of intention, whereas goals are commitments that require action. Those aren’t the only differences between goals and resolutions. Other differences include:
- Resolutions tend to aim for extreme changes. Goals can focus on big or small changes and can be short or long-term.
- Resolutions focus on the destination. Goals encompass the journey toward the end purpose.
- Resolutions frequently have a large gap between the status quo and the desired outcome. Goals help lessen the gap between the present and the future.
- Resolutions encompass the “what.” Goals accomplish the “what” by focusing on the “how,” which typically involves intention, setting, planning, preparing, and taking action.
Having dreams and desiring positive change are wonderful signs of growth and maturity, but if you actually want to achieve your desired outcome, set goals. They’re more powerful, realistic, and action-oriented than resolutions. This is especially true when you’re recovering from addiction.
Why Goals Are More Powerful Than Resolutions
You may not be aware of this fact, but 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. Though sobering, this statistic doesn’t mean that making positive change is impossible to do. We can all change. We just need to understand how change happens. A landmark Harvard Business study revealed that people with goals are 10 times more likely to succeed than those without.
The study also revealed that:
- Approximately 83% of people don’t have goals
- About 14% of people have goals in mind but don’t have them written down
- People with written goals are typically 3 times more successful than people who have unwritten goals
Here’s why experts believe that goal setting will continue to be more powerful than resolutions in 2021.
Resolutions Are Vague. Goals Are Specific
Resolutions, though positive and uplifting, are typically vague intention statements. Common resolutions such as “I’m going to get in shape,” “I will eat healthier,” or “I’m going to drink less” are vague. What do “in shape,” healthier,” or “drinking less” actually mean? Each of these statements can mean a wide range of different things, leaving you disconnected from your actual intentions.
Goals, on the other hand, are specific. When you’re specific about what you want to do, maintaining that specific aim becomes easier. Think of it this way: your resolution may be to attend a peer support group this year. That’s an amazing intention, but a relatable, specific goal might be to attend a local Alcoholic Anonymous meeting every Wednesday for 6 months. The resolution includes the “what,” but the goal encompasses the “what,” “when,” “where,” and “how often,” which makes the goal more realistic and attainable.
Resolutions Focus on The Idea Of Achieving. Goals Focus On The Effort Needed to Achieve
Resolutions focus on an act or feat you want to achieve, while goals focus on the effort needed to accomplish the venture you had in mind. Simply put, goals make resolutions possible. When you set goals, you can break down larger, vague resolutions into step-by-step plans that can help you accomplish the purpose you have in mind. This plan can be broken down into milestones that eventually add up to your desired outcome. Consider the goal of overcoming a traumatic memory that triggers cravings, for example. Your goals, broken down into milestones, might look like:
- Talk to your counselor about the traumatic memory
- Enroll in Eye Movement and Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy
- Participate in 1-hour long EMDR therapy sessions for 12 weeks
- Enroll in exposure therapy
- Participate in 1-hour long exposure therapy sessions for 12 weeks
- Enroll in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help change your thoughts about the traumatic situations
- Participate in 1-hour CBT therapy sessions for 8 weeks
These milestones might take time to accomplish, but every achievement means progress toward your main goal of overcoming that traumatic memory that triggers a craving for drugs or alcohol. In the same way, accomplishing that goal can help make a resolution such as “feel less anxious” possible.
SMART Goals Yield Successful Results
Goals are also more powerful than resolutions when they are SMART, an acronym that means your goals should be:
- Specific means that effective goals are simple, sensible, and significant. Your goals should accurately describe what you want to accomplish, why this venture is important, who this mission involves, where you need to be to accomplish this goal, as well as the type of resources you’ll need.
- Measurable means that your goal should be trackable, meaningful, and motivating. Measurable goals consider how, much, how often, and when the plan will be accomplished.
- Attainable means that your goals need to be realistic and achievable. Ask yourself: how can I accomplish this goal?
- Relevant means ensuring that the goal matters to you and that you’re working towards it at the right time in your life. You should also consider if this goal matches other efforts in your life.
- Time-Based means every goal needs a deadline. This target date can help you stay focused and motivated. Ask yourself:
- When do I want to accomplish this goal?
- What can I do 6 weeks or months from now?
- What can I do today towards this goal?
Helping You Accomplish Goals to Be Proud Of
Here at Genesis Recovery, our mission is to help restore lives affected by addiction. Our community-oriented approach to recovery can help you accomplish goals that make you proud. We can help you:
- Overcome addiction
- Rebuild your physical strength
- Regulate your emotions
- Manage mental health challenges
- Rebuild your marriage and family
Let us help you get there. Contact us today to learn more.