I Texted You: Resolutions Versus Goals — What’s the Difference?

Leandra (blue bubbles) and Amelia (gray bubbles) hash it out.

#Goals Man Repeller feature

*We texted in real time, so kindly ignore the autocorrections and typos. It’s hard out there for cold thumbs.


Photographed by David Bailey for Vogue Italia, 1976. Carousel photographed by Tim Walker for W Magazine, 2013. 


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  • Interesting. I feel almost completely the opposite. I feel like resolutions are transformative and goals are more concrete. Like, a resolution to be patient versus a goal to read one book a month. I did a goals & resolutions post on my blog and talked a bit about it.


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  • disqus_fGuiXDSwvJ

    I loved reading this! For me, this has been the first year that I have felt empowered to set goals and accomplish them. It’s exciting and empowering to be able to say that these are the things I want to accomplish this year, and to actually realize that I have the power to follow through. That’s how I differentiate between goals and resolutions. Resolutions seem more about resolving to do something (mindset vs action), while goals are an end point where you can arrive by accomplishing something.

  • Yvonne Dunlevie

    Not to be the comment board cheerleader, but the thing I like about a goal is that there is some sort of team aspect to it. While some of my goals are more personal and the team is 1 (me!), it is nice to set goals with friends and family, whether they be specific or general. “Resolutions” seems like I have to fix something that’s wrong with me – which my proud self never likes to admit. “Goals” seems like positive things that I am excited to accomplish with or without the help of people I care about.

  • Hayls

    Agreed with all of this! I like to look at resolutions as a sort of theme-for-the-year, then make goals that fit that theme. I like that goals can be specific and at the same time fluid and flexible – like I can make a resolution to “work out more” but my first goal in that resolution is “try spin class.” That way I can try spin class, hate it, and come up with a new goal without feeling like I completely ditched an entire resolution. This also takes care of “resolution dinner chatter” without getting too personal.

  • Not sure about resolutions – but that silver outfit is fantastic!

  • Lauren

    This was great! I don’t set new year’s resolutions, but do make resolutions on my birthday – like what I want to do when I’m 26. Some of them are personal and about self-improvement, and some are just places I want to see or experiences I want to have before I turn 27.

  • I had to set “goals” for work, and my boss wanted me to make them quantifiable. So nothing like: “Be more social” and instead “spend at least one hour at a work function”. This year I also set 12 goals for myself. They were things as simple as “getting my passport renewed” to more personal things. I really like Leandra’s point on resolutions and goals being a discussion of privacy versus public. I wouldn’t publish all of my goals for 2016. But I have been told that sharing them helps keep you “honest” and people can help you meet them. So I shared them with my family.

  • loved reading this! Loved seeing two smart women talking about resolutions and goals and I definitely have smth to learn from this!


  • Mavis

    It’s definitely the word “resolutions” that sticks for me. “I resolve to do x” just feels like it’s setting you up to fail. That’s not actually how change works, and habit forming is a lot harder than making something so fleeting as a *decision*. Basically the only thing that works is incremental change (i.e. forming a habit) which seems a lot more like setting small achievable goals like “read a chapter everyday” or “get off the bus two stops early every day”. Goals feel tangible, practical, accountable. Resolutions feel as fickle as the thoughts that flicker through our brains second by second.

    But I mean, what this discussion comes down to is, what specific connotations do these words have for you, and what is your relationship to resolutions based on your experience? Conceptually it feels like everyone sort of agrees, just not completely when it comes to which words to use.

    • Leandra Medine

      yes, very true — though i also believe that part of my thesis is trying to explain why the word goal resonates better as opposed to resolution, which feels like it’s been mainstream media by pop culture and therefore can’t really reflect a incredibly personal decision to “change”

  • FunkyForty

    I love this – have been thinking about this topic myself this year and I totally agree with what you are saying – bingo! So much that I think I shall retweet 😉

  • cogitate10

    well for me the reason people opt for goal setting more than making themselves a resolution is that goals are more optimistic, more positive. i mean compared to resolutions which seek to correct anything that belongs to the past, goals focus is the future. Spotless future yet.

  • Marissa Dawson

    Mine are going well. I actually made a 5 year plan in 2014. I’m on track-ish. I need to travel and date more but everything else is going well.