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Monday, January 02, 2012

What's the Difference between a Wish and a Resolution?

It's the time of resolutions. The year is new and so are our hopes for the future. Now is the time when we reaffirm our goals and plan to do better. The problem is most of what passes for a resolution is actually just wishful thinking.

A wish is a stated hope that things will be different in the future. You can wish to win the lottery or to have magic powers just as much as you can wish for losing weight, biking more and working less. Cross your fingers, close your eyes and hope, but the likelihood that you'll work less is about the same as you getting those magic powers.

A resolution is a stated course to act differently in the future. When you resolve, you commit to do something different, which is specific and active. Look at the picture here, this is a typical list of resolutions, but only one of them is close to being actionable. Losing a specific amount of weight is almost a resolution, but it's still more a wish that things will be different rather than a plan of action to make things different.

If your "resolution" has the words "more" or "less" in it, then you might as well wish for that unicorn, because you are as likely to get it. Get specific, make a SMART goal, and know how you are going to act differently tomorrow to achieve your goal. Instead of saying you want to work less, say that you will work no more than 40 hours a week. Don't say  that you want to ride your bike more, instead say that you will ride for one hour a day, five days a week. Don't say that you want to have a better marriage, get a book with one conversation a week to help you do it. Know, specifically, the individual actions you're going to take to achieve your goal and you can keep your resolutions.

What advice do you have for keeping resolutions?

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