Do New Year’s Resolutions Work?

saguaro cactus
stately saguaro cactus in the preserve across the street.

Last year on this exact day, I wrote about my goals and resolutions — and if they work. Take a look of what I had to say:

This year, I’ve decided to not make New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not that they haven’t worked for me in the past, so long as I kept them small and not overwhelming. I view New Year’s Resolutions as a “don’t do this list” rather than “try something new.” Although that’s not totally accurate, it’s how I’m looking at it for 2021. Here’s the difference between resolutions and goals I found online:

Essentially, a resolution is something you will constantly be working toward, while a goal is specific and finite. Resolutions are made up of goals. While there is a difference between goals and resolutions, they are relevant and intertwined.


I’ve decided that I’d rather make a list of goals, not resolutions. Mostly it’s learning new things, seeing new places. In my new home, I want to learn about the birds I’m seeing, the plants, the trails and mountains.One of our first hikes in AZ at Cave Creek Regional Park.

So, a few of my goals — besides getting my house unpacked and in order — are:

  1. Start birdwatching — I already put a bird feeder in the backyard.
  2. Learn about saguaro cactus and other species of native plants.
  3. Hike on a new trail each week.
  4. Experience more sunrises and sunsets.
  5. Explore areas like the Grand Canyon and Sedona.
  6. Take a photography class online.
  7. Sketch or paint some of my new scenery.
  8. Begin a new manuscript, in a genre new to me.

Update Jan. 5, 2022: Out of my goals from last year, I did a lot of them, including enyoying sunsets and sunrises — and writing an entire manuscript in a new genre. I am birdwatching and learning about the native plants. We haven’t hiked a new trail each week, because we discovered the preserve across the street where it’s too convenient to hike and skip a 30-minute drive to get a trail. We haven’t been to Sedona or the Grand Canyon yet since we’ve moved to Arizona, although I’ve been to both in the past. That can be a goal for this year. I didn’t take a photography class, but I’m practicing on my own. I got out my sketch book and I’ve been sketching sporadically.

I think those were good goals and ones I’ll continue with in 2022.

What do you think about the difference between goals and resolutions? Do you have any you’d like to share?

desert sunrise
Desert sunrise from my back yard.

17 thoughts on “Do New Year’s Resolutions Work?

  1. One difference between resolutions and goals? Age. By the time you reach your mid 60’s (and retirement), any resolutions you may have had should already be locked in as automatic, part of who you are. Goals can still be an effective way of moving forward, hence the term “bucket list”. I gave up resolutions twenty years ago, but a few of my goals are still on the table. And resolutions are only as effective as the willpower to see them through, so pretty much not effective for most people. Goals are more credible. A resolution of “I plan on losing 20 pounds this year” is a goal (not a resolution), because it has a termination point. “I plan on losing 20 pounds and keeping it off” is a resolution, but demands a forever commitment, and very few…VERY FEW….people have a forever commitment anymore.

  2. I find it curious that people wait for a single day every year to find the motivation to do something different. A muse of mine back in the late 60’s told me “Live life unto exhaustion”. That has been my mantra every day since. If you are conscious of every minute of every hour of every day you will have no time for anything but living as best as you can under the circumstances. A ship at sea cannot change course quickly, neither can any human being. You want to do something new? Don’t talk about it, just do it!

  3. I like setting goals and updating them halfway through the year as I’m forced to adjust to life’s circumstances, such as an unexpected pandemic! Life has a way of wiggling in between me and my aspirations. 💕C

    • I found during the early stages of the pandemic I tried to bury myself in work writing articles for trade magazines. Then, phase two was not being motivated. Funny how life gets in the way.

  4. I do goals rather than resolutions too. Resolution sounds so final. I make vision cards in the 6 areas of my life I want to concentrate on for the year. Working on them now to share in a post sometime this week, hopefully. Your sunsets and sunrises are spectacular!

  5. I pretty much view resolutions and goals as the same thing, but there is more emphasis on a resolution. A goal can be something I hope to accomplish, where making a resolution implies that I, well, resolve to accomplish it. I also like breaking it down to re-solution. If last years troubles remain, I want to circle back and find a new solution. That is just the way the words play in my head.

  6. Yes. There is a definite difference. Goals can be put into actionable steps and planned out. Resolutions are flat statements with no plan to them

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