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Goals, Resolutions and Divorce.

by | Dec 13, 2023 | Uncategorized

Each year around this time I spend some time reviewing my New Year’s Resolutions from the past year to check in and see how I did and then consider if I want to continue chasing those that I have not yet attained, or whether I want to build some new ones.  I have always used the terms “resolutions” and “goals” interchangeably.  In doing a little bit of research I discovered that some scholars make a clear distinction between the two.  In this week’s blog we explore that distinction, speak a little bit to the value of revisiting your goals at divorce, and then explore 10 things to consider when doing our goal work.


Resolution versus Goal:  What’s the Difference?  What I have been able to gather regarding the difference is that a goal is a statement about what you want to achieve and a resolution is a statement about what you want to change.  With a goal it is a concrete, measurable, specific and achievable thing.  With a resolution the change sought is often broader, and more abstract, a commitment to something without a detailed plan.  In looking up the definitions in the  Oxford dictionary this distinction of concrete and clarity for a goal and vagueness and abstractness for a resolution does not appear in the definitions.  A goal is an aim or desired result and a resolution is a firm decision to do or not do something.  Whether you want to call the work spent envisioning your future and making the plan to get there setting goals or making resolutions, thinking about what you want to achieve to give yourself some direction is a valuable exercise in life, and especially when big things are happening that result in change.


Visiting or Revisiting Goals at Divorce.  The most popular time for considering and setting goals and making resolutions is New Years.  It provides an easy to remember start and end date.  It is historically a time when we get inspired to turn over a new leaf and strive to propel ourselves forward in our lives, or relationships, and our careers.  When you really think about it, any other day of your life is just as good of a time to consider making resolutions as is New Years.  There are certain times that are actually better than New Years and that is when significant events happen warranting reassessing your long term plan.  Divorce is one such time.  The big benefit to setting goals or revisiting goals during this time is they will guide you and help you avoid feelings of being lost, discouraged, without focus and lost.  Having goals gives you something to strive for, something to motivate you and purpose.  Divorce can have a way of making us question our purpose.  Taking some time to reimagine our purpose can help to provide guidance out of the difficult spot you may find yourself in.


10 Things to Consider when Goal/Resolution Setting  Here is a list of 10 things to consider as you embark on making your commitments to the future.

  • Make them Specific.  If resolutions are vague and goals are specific, then it is important 

that you set goals and be specific.  We will get to other considerations such as accountability and measurability, but if you don’t know precisely what you want, then you won’t know how to accomplish it.  An example of vague goal is “I want to be fit and healthy.”  An example of making it more specific is “I want to weigh 150 pounds” or “I want to run a marathon in under 3 hours.”  Take the time to vision precisely and specifically what you want.

  • Make them Multi-facetedWe are typically healthiest when we are able to take the time

 to nurture the various facets of our lives.  We get out of balance when we spend too much time focusing on one facet, such as our work life, to the detriment of our relationships with others, or our health.  When you consider setting goals, think about making career goals, financial goals, relationship goals, health goals, spiritual goals, and personal growth goals. Make a plan that has you focusing on advancing all that is important to you.

  • Make them Attainable yet Ambitious.  They say if you shoot for the moon and you 

miss, you will end up in the stars.  That’s all well and good but you have to be careful setting your goals  too high because if they are unrealistic you may become discouraged  and quickly give up on the pursuit.  It is also important to make them ambitious.   If you make your goals simple you can achieve them but find in the end you have not taken yourself too far forward.  It is important to be challenged by your goals so you do not get bored with them and when you reach them you can feel that strong sense of accomplishment.


  1. Make them Measurable.  Given the example above, how do you know when you have

met your goal of being healthy and fit?  You can be creative in measuring your success, but make it measurable so that you know when you get there.  Stepping on the scale and seeing the results may be one way to measure.  Crossing the finish line under 3 hours for that marathon is another way.  When I was trying to learn to play guitar I committed to playing it 50 times in the year and kept a tally.  Take whatever you want to accomplish and then come up with ways to measure your progress.

  •  Make them Fun and Productive.  Setting goals should be fun.  Take the opportunity to

commit to doing something this year that you have never done before.  Commit to getting scuba certified and going diving. Last year I committed to each month going on a hike that I had never been on before.   It resulted in me getting out in nature which I found fun while it also advanced my physical and mental health goals.  Try Google-ing “List of Goals” or “List of Resolutions” and find some options on the list that might be fun and productive for you.

  •  Chart the Course and Take Action.  Write your goals down.  Chart how you will 

accomplish them.   Big things are accomplished with small steps.  They say the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.  Once you have the end in sight, do the planning to provide the best path to get there.  

  •  Accountability.  If you have the willpower and drive to do so, set your goals and hold 

yourself accountable to accomplishing them.  There is no greater strengthening of self confidence than setting goals and bringing yourself to accomplish them.  If you waiver in holding yourself to meeting them, you may want to share them with others who will help to hold you accountable to them.  When you make the commitment out loud there is a higher likelihood of sticking to it, because otherwise it is not only yourself seeing that you are not accomplishing it, but others are as well.  Keep yourself on track whichever way works best for you.

  •  Check in Frequently.  It is easy to lose sight of your goals when you take the time to 

make them, then tuck them away out of sight to be forgotten.  Post them conspicuously.  Place them somewhere where you will constantly trip over them.  Review them regularly to check your progress and to remind yourself to make progress.  Review them daily, weekly or monthly, whatever helps you to keep them in mind and to move yourself toward accomplishing them.

  •  Celebrate Successes, Learn from Failures.  Celebrate when you have successes

along the way.  Reward yourself for meeting goals.  Take any failings as an opportunity to learn.  What could you have done better?  Should you chart a different path to get there?  Stay positive.  When you have reached a goal, make a new one.  As mentioned in a prior blog, life is a journey, not a destination.

  •  Get Help when Needed.  Find someone to help you accomplish your quest.  It can be a 

professional like a coach or a personal trainer.  It can also be a friend or a colleague.  Consider finding someone who is also striving to accomplish goals where you can serve as an accountability partner to one another.  You don’t need to take the journey yourself.  Having someone to check in with can be a great help toward remaining on task.


Setting goals can help give us a sense of direction, can help us to see the bigger picture, and can provide us with motivation and ambition to move our lives forward in the best direction possible.  Considering where we want to be and charting the path to get there limits the risk of being blown off course and spinning our wheels aimlessly.  Sure, it’s New Years and we will hear about resolutions for a few weeks as we move into the new year, then it often goes forgotten.  Taking time to consider your future and what you want is too important to relegate to a once a year task.  Take up this work whenever you feel the inspiration.  As George Eliot may have once said, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”