Don’t Call It a Resolution: Why New Year’s Goals Are Superior

I’m a goal-oriented person. I like to feel that I am operating in this world with a purpose. That purpose is often defined by some goal I have set. Sometimes the goals are large, multi-year ones. Sometimes they’re bite-sized. Regardless, the fact of the matter is, I love goals. Given this, it might not be surprising to hear that I love setting goals at the beginning of a new year. However, let’s be clear here: I set New Year’s goals, not resolutions.

Don’t call it a resolution.

The idea of a “New Year’s resolution” does not sit well with me. In my mind, a “resolution” implies that there are things that need to be changed. Often the resolutions people set are about breaking what they consider bad habits, such as stop eating so many sweets, quit smoking, stop being so sedentary and go to the dang gym, etc.

Resolutions feel strict as if there is no room for gradual change, no capacity for empathy and kindness for one’s self throughout the process.

Additionally, they’re often vague. What exactly does “eat less sweets” even mean? How do I track that? A resolution of that nature is sure to lead to me smashing a few Oreos and then feeling immense guilt about it.

Goals have entered the chat.

I prefer goals over resolutions. A good goal is clearly defined, action-oriented, realistic, measurable, and has a timeline set. They might require a little more thought and planning than a resolution, but in my experience, they are more likely to set you up for success.

Because goals are action-oriented, they inherently feel more positive than resolutions. Goals are about building upon yourself, not stopping or stripping away.

For example, if we take the resolution of “eat less sweets,” we could turn it into…


Research recipes and craft healthier alternatives to Oreos.


Monthly, throughout the year.


Locate healthier treat recipes.
Pick one new recipe at the start of each month.
Test out the new recipe 1x per month.


Mark on the calendar which day each month will be baking day.


Take photos of each month’s treat.

The above goal plan did not say “shame yourself for buying Oreos.” However, because I personally enjoy baking, the notion of baking a new healthier alternative one time per month sounds fun. It’s something I would actually do. It would then result in the need for less Oreos. This plan is more calculated and enjoyable than simply saying, “You are not allowed to buy Oreos in 2024.”

Break ’em up into categories.

I like to break my goals up into categories for better planning. This aids me in thinking strategically about what I would like to accomplish. Your categories might differ from mine, but to give you an idea, this is how I separate my goals:


This could include things like building up to a certain dollar amount in a savings account or making a large purchase, such as a new car.

Health & Wellbeing

Perhaps I want to bike to work once per week or get better about doing those morning stretches twice each week.


This bucket might include coming up with a certain number of date night ideas with my partner or adding a specific book on relationships to my reading list.


This could include specific hard skills I’d like to improve, like learning how to use a certain tool or language. It could also include kicking off an initiative at work or putting a plan together to improve on soft skills.


My primary hobby is horseback riding, so it has its own category. This might be a different hobby for you, or could simply be a “hobbies” category.


If you’re a homeowner, you know. There’s a list. It’s always growing. Be realistic about a few items from that list that you can accomplish in a year.


This is kind of a grab-bag of things. It might include reading (for fun) goals, learning an instrument, etc.

Be realistic.

Goal planning is fun and exciting. However, it can be easy to get caught up in a glorious vision of all that you can be. Be careful to not overload yourself. Really, you don’t need to have goals inside each of the above categories. There may be some years where you hit the “professional” bucket hard, but then some years where you don’t. That’s okay! If you set too many goals, you are likely setting yourself up to not reach them all.

What’s on your list?

I’d love to hear what goals others are striving to achieve in the New Year. What’s on your list? Do you have a preferred way to plan and track them?


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