Goals vs. Resolutions? Helpful Advice on What to Set with Your Family

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As we approach the New Year, I know many of you are probably thinking about setting New Year’s Resolutions. Do you set personal resolutions or family resolutions? Do you set goals rather than resolutions? Let’s take a look at setting goals vs. resolutions.

Goals vs. Resolutions – What’s the Difference?

The terms goals and resolutions are often used interchangeably, but they actually have slightly different meanings and implications. Let’s look at the key differences of goals vs. resolutions:

What are Goals?


Goals are things you want to achieve or accomplish. They’re like targets you set for yourself to work towards. Goals can be big or small, short-term, or long-term. They help you stay focused and give you a sense of direction. Setting goals can help you plan and take steps to make your dreams a reality. Goals should be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.  

  • Specific: Drilling down to a specific goal ensures that it is more concrete and focused. To do this, you should break down a larger objective or idea into smaller, more manageable tasks.
  • Measurable: You need to be sure your goals and progress toward goals are measurable. If not, how will you know if you are on track? 
  • Achievable: This may seem like a no-brainer, but you need to make sure that your goals are attainable. Dreaming big is okay, but be reasonable with the timeframe you are setting for your goals. If your goal is not achievable to begin with, you are setting yourself up for failure and we don’t want that. 
  • Relevant: Another “duh” moment, but does your goal line up with your values and long-term family objectives? Sometimes we get caught up in goal-setting and choose things at random because it seems like a good goal, or others have that goal. Ultimately you need to decide what is important to your family. 
  • Time-Based: Goals can have both short-term and long-term time frames. Often, people associate them with a specific timeline and may assign deadlines. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t set deadlines for myself I will procrastinate to Infinity and Beyond! Even if we have to adjust our timelines, this is better than not having a timeline at all. 
  • Example: Cook dinner as a family 1 time per week. (Need recipe ideas? Check out my recipe page here!)

You can adjust and modify goals based on your progress and changing circumstances.They allow for adaptability as you move toward reaching your goals.

What are Resolutions?


Resolutions are firm decisions or intentions to do or not do something, usually made at the beginning of a new year. They are like promises to yourself about positive changes you want to make in your life. Resolutions often focus on personal growth, health, or habits. New Year’s Resolutions are not typically made with the SMART acronym in mind.

  • Description: Resolutions tend to be broader and more conceptual. They often describe a general direction or theme for personal development.
  • Timeframe: Resolutions are typically set for the entire year. They are less likely to have specific deadlines attached and are more about adopting a new mindset or behavior over time.
  • Example: Spend more time with family.

Resolutions tend to be less specific and often lack the detailed action plans associated with goals. They are more about a general mindset or commitment to yourself and typically have a pass/fail outcome.

Goals vs. Resolution Comparison:

  • Measurability: Goals are usually more precise and measurable, while resolutions can be broader and more conceptual.
  • Action-Oriented: Goals often involve specific actions and tasks, whereas resolutions are more about a general mindset or lifestyle change.
  • Time Orientation: Goals have a specific time frame, while resolutions may be more about the overall direction of personal development over a more extended period of time.
  • Adaptability: Goals can be adjusted based on progress, while resolutions may be more overarching and may not change as frequently. Resolutions tend to feel more concrete and for some reason we don’t feel that we can change them. 

In practice, people might use both goals and resolutions as part of their personal development strategy. Goals provide a structured and actionable plan, while resolutions offer a broader theme or mindset for personal growth.

Why Choose Family Goals vs. Resolutions?


Setting family goals vs. resolutions, especially wellness goals, is important for several reasons. I am a fan of living in the “grey,” rather than the “black and white “or “all or nothing” mindset, which is why I think goals are the more helpful tool. Setting family goals for the New Year can help promote the overall well-being and health of family members. It can also strengthen your family bond. Here are 9 reasons why setting family wellness goals can be beneficial:

  1. Promotes a Healthy Lifestyle: Setting wellness goals encourages the adoption of healthy habits and behaviors. Whether it’s regular exercise, balanced nutrition, or sufficient sleep, these goals can serve as a blueprint for the family to make healthier choices in their daily lives.
  2. Prevents Health Issues: Proactively addressing health concerns and setting goals to prevent potential health issues is crucial. Family wellness goals can focus on preventive measures to address issues before they become more serious. Making health and wellness a part of everyday life and not just a response to a diagnosis ensures that no one family member is singled out. 
  3. Builds Stronger Relationships: Pursuing wellness goals as a family fosters a sense of unity and teamwork. Working toward common goals fosters a shared sense of accomplishment and strengthens the bonds between family members. It provides an opportunity for mutual support and encouragement.
  4. Teaches Responsibility and Accountability: Setting and working towards wellness goals teaches family members about responsibility and accountability. Each member plays a role in contributing to the overall health of the family, whether it’s through meal planning, exercise routines, or other wellness activities.
  5. Improves Mental Health: Wellness is not only about physical health but also mental well-being. Setting goals related to stress management, relaxation techniques, and open communication can contribute to a healthier family environment and reduce the risk of mental health issues.
  6. Establishes Healthy Habits in Children: Your kids learn by example. When you prioritize wellness and set goals for your family, you provide a positive influence on your children. This helps instill healthy habits from a young age, setting the foundation for a lifetime of well-being. 
  7. Enhances Quality of Life: When we set wellness goals we are aiming to improve the overall quality of life for each family member. Whether it’s increasing energy levels, improving mood, or enhancing physical fitness, these goals contribute to a more fulfilling and enjoyable life.
  8. Prepares for Life Changes: Families undergo various life changes, such as aging, moving, or new health challenges. Setting wellness goals helps the family adapt to these changes and maintain a resilient and adaptable approach to life’s ups and downs.
  9. Creates a Sense of Purpose: Setting and achieving goals gives the family a sense of purpose and direction. It provides a blueprint for the family’s collective journey towards a healthier and happier life.

Now, Where to Start?!

I love to break down goals monthly to allow for flexibility and change. When we set New Year’s resolutions, we tend to give up when we break them in January. My goal for my family (and yours!) is that we learn to get back on track when something derails us. I start out planning that readjustment will be needed, so I don’t feel defeated when I need to shift. This year I am trying something new and setting small, daily goals that we can work toward as a family, as well as overarching monthly goals we set as a family.  My kids are already excited about our January calendar and I wanted to share it with all of you as well!

I know what you may be thinking when you see daily goals … how will I ever keep up? The daily goals are mostly simple things to get you and your family in the habit of making healthy choices. There are some fun family events thrown in as well, but feel free to change those to suit your family. You don’t need to complete it 100%, but it just provides a daily focus and something to discuss around the dinner table. I hope that you and your family enjoy setting goals vs. resolutions!

January 2024 Family Wellness Calendar

About the Author

Dru Rosales

Dru Rosales, MS, RD, LD is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. She specializes in children and adolescents with a focus on eating disorders, weight management, and sports nutrition. Dru received her Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology from the University of Southern California and her Master’s Degree in Nutritional Science from California State University, Los Angeles.

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