Resolutions and goals are very similar; they both represent something we want to achieve. However, they differ on their effectiveness. Goals are considered to be a foundation stone of success, depending on your definition of success, whereas resolutions have, according to some studies, a 97% failure rate. Why the difference? This article is one of a series which explores that difference.

One of the differences between goals and resolutions is the structure or system behind them. Resolutions typically do not have a thought out support structure. Goals are typically part of a systematic thought process; in fact, goals are typically the surface of such a system. This system provides goals with an ability to survive challenges which typically overwhelm resolutions

Resolutions are On Their Own

A typical resolution comes about because there is a problem or a lack in your life. You look at the weight scale and make a resolution to lose weight, or you look at your bank account and resolve to save more money. Resolutions are driven by a feeling of dissatisfaction with some aspect of your life. They are caused by an emotional response, usually unhappiness. While emotions are necessary for achievement, they are a poor force for significant change, since emotions typically are short-lived.

Systematic Goals

Goals, particularly written goals, are the product of a combination of emotion and logic. While emotion provides the power to accomplish a goal, logic creates a structure which harnesses that power and directs it towards effective action. Goals are the final result of a process, which makes goals much more likely to survive the challenges of life.

The structure of goals starts not with unhappiness but with purpose. What is your life purpose? Why are you here, and why do you do what you do? Finding your life’s purpose provides a much more permanent source of action than transient unhappiness. How do you discover your life’s purpose? There have books written on this subject, but let me suggest two starting points. First, what makes you feel good about yourself? What do you do that satisfies you deep down inside? Second, what are you good at? What comes easy for you? By looking at these two areas, you begin to refine your life purpose.

Once you have your life purpose, you then create a vision of that purpose. If you were living according to that purpose, what would your life look like? What would you be doing, and where would you be doing it? Who would you be working with, and how? A visualization of your purposeful life provides goals with a clarity often lacking in resolutions.

Another element of the system behind goals are your core values. What do you believe in? And why? What are the qualities of a good life, a good person, or a good job? Defining your core values provides your goals with strength.

Goals then become a step towards realizing your vision in accordance with your core values. When a life challenge comes up to threaten your goal, the vision and values support the goal, preventing it from being overwhelmed and destroyed. The purpose of life provides the power to push through, around, or over the obstacle, allowing you to continue making progress towards achieving your goal.

What Now

So what do you do now? How do you convert the resolution you feel is needed into a goal which can withstand the upcoming events? The key is to take the time to determine why you are unhappy. Instead of focusing on the unhappiness, focus on what you want. If you feel you are overweight, focus on how you would look and feel if you were at a good weight. Use this vision to create the goal, and then use the goal to drive your actions.

Author's Bio: 

John Steely is a certified life coach concentrating on personal and professional development. His site Steely Services provides information on personal development topics. John shares his love of classics in his Monthly Classic program of free books.