Setting a goal is not the same as making a resolution

I hope you had a joyous Christmas and New Year. Every year at this time at the top of my to do list is New Year’s resolutions. I’m guessing that’s on your to do list, too.

For several years, the item at the top of my list was lose 10 pounds. It stayed in the No. 1 spot year after year because those same 10 pounds continued to hold on or even creep upward. Now that I’m facing the fact of no success, I’m ready to consider a new approach, and I’ve found the answer.

Only now do I recognize that what I’ve been doing has been setting goals. And I was omitting major factors in goal setting like the “when,” the “how” and “what” should happen.

Did I need others involved — maybe one of those medical procedures like a tummy tuck or special diets from Weight Watchers? What about a schedule? Right now I may need to limit my love of dark chocolate to eat none after dinner, or maybe bite into those delicious bits only on weekends. What about a calendar or record to track progress? Do I get on the scale every day? Or record my weight once a week?

Another aspect of my unsuccessful resolutions to drop 10 pounds was ignoring outside factors or circumstances. Just this week my youngest kid brought me a plate of yummy Christmas goodies, and without a minute of thought I ate them all. (If I were serious about those 10 pounds, I would have anticipated and planned for the challenges of Christmas cookies.) External circumstances are part of the picture.

Many businesses, organizations and political groups conduct annual goal setting sessions. Here at Mary’s Woods there is discussion of what the future could (or should) hold. We read about the increasing average age of city residents and the changes in the needs of services for seniors. How might those circumstances affect the future services and activities here and in the community?

A regular annual item on city council calendars is goal setting. For any chance to realize a goal there needs to be recognition of all the players and an understanding of actions that are needed. All the players need to recognize the long-range goal, and, hopefully, they have the resolve to make it happen. That’s where resolutions come in. To resolve to do something is a promise — a commitment. Columbus and other early explorers resolved to find a new route to the riches in Asia. The goal was clear and they resolved to try again and again to reach the goal.

Businesses and individuals set goals, too. However, we should recognize that setting a goal is not the same as making a resolution. On New Year’s, or at any other time, a resolution is a commitment to be reached. A goal is what I aim for, what I hope to achieve. To me that’s a far smaller commitment than what I plan to accomplish.

Getting rid of those 10 pounds is still on my to do list. But I need to shape up (pardon the pun) and better define that goal with a list of how to accomplish it. I hope that local governments, businesses and organizations can do the same, and the results will be meaningful resolutions.

Stories for Positive Aging is a semi-monthly column on senior issues written by Lake Oswego author of “Facing Age, Finding Answers” Ardis Stevenson. She can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by regular mail at 17440 Holy Names Drive, Lake Oswego, OR 97034.

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