Goals and resolutions are very similar. Both represent desirable results we want to achieve. Why, then, do resolutions have a 97% failure rate, while goals form the foundation of most success strategies? The differences between the two, although subtle, are significant. And this article is one of several designed to explore those differences.
Law of Gestation
Both goals and resolutions are designed to lead to actions, which are supposed to generate desired results. However, the two deal with the time needed to achieve those results differently. Before I go into that difference, let me explain something called the Law of Gestation. This law states that everything needs a period of time to manifest. We can easily see this in nature; plant a seed, and it takes some period of time, usually days, before a sprout appears. The same applies to ideas and desires. After you plant a desire, you have to let enough time go by to allow that desire to manifest.
A resolution does not have this time period built in. A person forms a resolution and acts upon it; however, since a resolution does not have a time frame as part of its structure, the person does not know how long is needed for results. Given the tendency of our culture towards immediate satisfaction, the person then becomes impatient for immediate results. Seeing none, they say the resolution has failed, and forget about it.
A goal, on the other hand, has a time element built into it, if it is properly formed. (A properly formed goal has the SMART properties, of which Time is the last). So a person works towards a goal but knows that some time must elapse before manifestation occurs. This inspires patience and persistence, both of which are needed to achieve goals. Even if the time estimate is off, the person recognizes that some time must pass, and so is willing to wait for results.
A second problem with the lack of time awareness in resolutions is the lack of flexibility of approach. Different time frames require different approaches. A short term goal, something which is less than a year, is more action oriented. A medium term goal, which should take between one and five years, is more amenable to planning before action. And a long term goal, which includes an estimate of more than five years, lends itself to a more developmental approach.
However, resolutions are almost always immediate, which means they demand immediate actions and immediate results. The lack of planning and development inherent in the resolution making process means that any efforts towards reaching the resolution are more likely to be stopped before the necessary time passes.
Patience is Key
So how do we make resolutions more time sensitive? The key is to fight the drive towards immediacy. Take the time needed to understand the process needed to reach the desired result, making your resolutions more goal-like by incorporating an awareness of the time needed to see results, and by adapting your actions towards that time frame. A little thought about timing can have amazing effects on your success rate.