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It is known that I am not a proponent of goal lists. A failure to reach a goal can result in guilt and many goals are unreachable to begin with.
With the new year just coming around, resolutions and goals are fresh on everyone’s mind. This year, however, I noticed a backlash specifically against the word “resolution” suggesting that “goal” is the more appropriate word to bring success.
This got me thinking about the difference between these two words. By definition, a resolution is more than just an end goal. It is forming a solution. Hence, re-solution. Resolutions are not bullet points but are paragraphs describing steps to solve your life problems.
On the other hand, goals are challenges not solutions. Re-framing your goals as challenges can provide motivation and help clarify what you want to achieve from each goal. Have a list of challenges, instead of a list of goals.
Looking at common 2013 goals across the Internet, “run more” is a common one. Whether your goal is to run a 5K, run a mile, or run faster, you can unlock your competitive side by rewriting these to say:
Other challenge-based goals include:
These are all challenges because there is a defined end-point. You can count and check off how many vegetables you ate, how many books you read, how many words you wrote.
Open-ended & vague “emotional” goals are often actually problems. “Be a better friend” or “Call my parents more” are difficult to define and thus achieve. These should be thought-out and clarified instead of being lumped with the challenges.
What is “a better friend”? What do you have to do to feel as though you achieved this? Do better friends make more phone calls, hang out more, buy thoughtful gifts, write letters? You could turn this into a close-ended goal by changing it to: “I challenge myself to email one friend once a week.” Will that make you feel like a better friend?
Although I like using the word “challenge” in place of “goal”, do not let this tempt you to make outrageous challenges to try to push yourself even harder. Once you cross a challenge off your list, just replace it with a bigger one. Ran that 5K? Challenge yourself to run a 10K. These should be flexible challenges, not a list you only look at in January and December.
Use the motivation of a challenge to reach your achievements and to better define your desired results.