Resolutions vs. Goals: Which Works?
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Resolutions vs. Goals: Which Works?

Christmas is done and New year's Day is near. Many people make resolutions for the new year soon. They want to lose weight, ditch the sweets, read the Bible in a year, and on and on. Some people are making goals for the new year right now. Some make hasty wishful decisions to drop something or do something. Others plot what they want to accomplish and determine an action plan. Which one is best?

My first husband and I took a cruise to Bermuda in September before he passed away in August the following year. There was an intriguing rock wall I wanted to climb. Fibromyalgia and gripping don't usually go well together.Three times I tried. My goal was to ring the bell at the top before the end of the cruise. With my hands sore and shaky, I scaled the wall with the encouragement of my hubby and the man who handled the rope that kept me from falling. I finally made it on my third try. Triumphantly I rang them bell, then clammered down.I had an end result in mind with a time limit. Did I make a resolution or set a goal?

First, understand what resolutions are. Resolutions are things we choose to give up or take on because of guilt from what we've done or not done, in it's essence now. The Oxford Dictionary says:

  1. a firm decision to do or not to do something: "she kept her resolution not to see Anne any more" · synonyms: intention · resolve · decision · intent · aim · plan ·
  2. the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter: "the peaceful resolution of all disputes" · synonyms: solution to · answer to · end to · ending to ·
  3. chemistry the process of reducing or separating something into its components.
  4. the smallest interval measurable by a scientific (especially optical) instrument; the resolving power.

The first two definitions are closest to what we do. But, as I said before, we do this out of guilt. We usually remove something or stop something in our lives because we feel badly about our failures. Unfortunately, we lose our resolve in about 2 months-- 3, if we are lucky.

Goals are something we want to accomplish, so we write them down and devise a plan to meet them. The Oxford Dictionary says:

  1. (in football, soccer, rugby, hockey, and some other games) a pair of posts linked by a crossbar and often with a net attached behind it, forming a space into or over which the ball has to be sent in order to score.
  2. the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result: "going to law school has become the most important goal in his life"synonyms: objective · aim · end · target · design · intention · intent ·

 The second is what we are looking at.  The definition of goal gives the understanding that there is a greater intention to this change we wish to make. We have the end result in mind.

Goal setting will have a greater long-term effect than making resolutions. We know what change we want to make, but then we make an action plan to accomplish it. Guilt is a great motivator, but the Will in us says that there is far more to this than just stopping or deleting something from our lives. We need to know what change truly needs to take place and how we will make the desired change. We expect an outcome, so, we set ourselves in a place for an outcome to happen. It is far more productive to make goals with specifics and steps, then we measure our achievement as we go. We truly expect to succeed. That is the difference.

Remember, there will be times we stumble in the process. The important thing is to re-examine our goals to make sure we haven't set ourselves up for failure. They should be do-able. Keep the end result in mind.

The other part of setting goals for a Christian is to keep God in the loop. By prayerfully, moving forward, we allow Him to interrupt our plans for His. His plans are always best for us. "In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps." Proverbs 16:9

Now is the time to write your goals for the New Year. Put them in a reasonable order and begin on January 1st. Reassess monthly.  Make them with the determination that you want what God wants for you. Let Him mold you more and more into the image of Jesus Christ whether that is to lose weight or read the Bible in a year. He will never steer you wrong.

Question: What is it that you want to accomplish?

May God bless you!

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