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Resolutions, Goal-Setting and Percentages

Resolutions, Goal-Setting and Percentages

While I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, I tend to come up with a mantra for the year. I also take each new year as an opportunity to set new goals. This is also a time to think about the previous and upcoming years.

What is the difference between a resolution and a goal? A resolution is more like a decision: I’m going to focus this year. A goal is something that can be accomplished: I’m going to write for 1 hour per day, 5 days a week. One is a vague desire or ideal (how will I know if I’ve focused or not?). While the other is something specific and measurable. I could look back in my planner for the entire year and see that I’ve checked that task off each day. Goals can be broken into smaller steps. (Writing for 1 hour per day as a goal that leads to the goal of completing a novel.)

I read an article the other day about setting goals that had a point in it that I’d never seen before. The article mentioned that, if you want to lose 40 pounds, you should multiply the 40 pounds by 60 percent. This comes up with a goal that is achievable in a year: 24 pounds. I can see the point. People sometimes come up with unrealistic goals. Oftentimes, it’s better to set a realistic one instead and achieve it than to give up early on. But I wonder, do we all overestimate our abilities like that? If I want to do 100 things, am I realistically likely to only complete 60 of them? And what happens if we scale back, does that lead to cutting ourselves short?

Out of curiosity, I checked over my goals for the past 3 years. I had between 13 and 34 goals each year, and each year I completed between 70 and 75 percent of them. I’ve noticed this same kind of thing with my daily to-do lists. The more I have on my list, the more I get done, but the ratio of doing to un-done things stays about the same regardless. It’s a rare day that I get everything done. I do feel more relaxed when I’ve only left 3 out of 10 things undone instead of 8 out of 25. Maybe that is the real point: feeling comfortable WHILE achieving the most important of your goals.

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