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Resolutions vs. Goals: Creating your own roadmap for 2021

By Rachel Parodneck, LMSW

Chances are, you’ve made resolutions for New Years. If not this year, then definitely in the past. Some may confuse resolutions with goals. While resolutions are nice fantasies, long-term goals are methods by which you can set yourself up for success.

So what exactly is the difference between a formal New Years Resolution and a Goal? 

New Years resolutions are short-lived and usually fizzle out within the first couple months of the year. Common resolutions include signing up for a gym membership, doing a “Dry January,” losing 10 lbs, and the list goes on. Resolutions by their very nature are punitive and focus on the perceived deficit(s) in your life.

A goal, however, is very different. A goal can be set and achieved year round. It is an addition to the life you are already living, not punishment for what you are lacking. It is a plan to make your life better. Although some goals can be time sensitive, goals by their very nature can be fluid, positive, and aspirational. 

In therapy, therapists often create a treatment plan, which is a roadmap for getting your life to where you want to be. Treatment plans can be lengthy and clinical, or simple and in the words of the client themself. They consist of objectives that lead to achieving one’s goals. Objectives are created by the client and the therapist to reach the client’s identified goals. These treatment plans are ever-evolving and being updated as therapy progresses. 

You can also create your own treatment plan aka roadmap. In creating your roadmap, think about the different areas of your life where you would like to see change. Create categories for your goals (if you have multiple goals) that are specific and measurable. 

A goal and objectives could be, for example:
Goal: Spending more time with friends and family


1- Call 1 friend per week

2- Have 2 game nights with family every month

3- Facetime your parents biweekly. 

Treatment plans work best in therapy because your therapist is a pro at creating them and is also able to hold you accountable to reaching your goals to whatever degree you decide.

Ask your therapist about a treatment plan today!