The Difference Between a Resolution and Resolve

Millions of Americans made New Year’s Resolutions this week. Most are related to improvements in health, family, career, or personal growth. Does the tradition of setting out to make positive change this way work? Research shows that less than 8% of us are actually successful.


Don’t be discouraged by this dismal statistic.

Do you want to make this year different by turning your resolutions into habits and lasting change? You can. The key is understanding the subtle difference between a resolution and resolve.

RESOLUTION is defined as a decision to do or not to do something.

RESOLVE is defined as firm determination to do something.

Notice the difference? One is wishful thinking. A fleeting moment in time. The other involves ongoing action with a fixed purpose.

Anyone can make a resolution. Not everyone has resolve.

How do you get it? Some people are born with it, but resolve can be learned. Here are four ways to improve your resolve:

  1. Make a plan. It’s easy to think of a resolution, but it requires time and deliberation to craft a plan. The process of getting to the goal is critical. Write it down, step by step. Be specific. Include details about what you need to do to get there.
  2. Secure an accountability partner. Research shows this is key. Want to exercise more? Find a friend who has the same goal and hold each other accountable. Check in weekly to see how it’s going.
  3. Set reminders. You’ve set a plan and have a partner in crime. But old habits die hard. It takes a while to get into the swing of things and make lasting changes. Your plan includes detailed actions. Put them on your calendar. Set alerts on your phone. Dust off your sticky notes.
  4. Celebrate milestones. You won’t accomplish the change you want to make in your life overnight. Improvement worth making requires endurance. You may get discouraged along the way and be tempted to quit. Don’t wait until you reach the end goal to celebrate ultimate success. Revel in the small victories along the way. Want to lose 20 pounds? Throw a party when you’ve shed the first five.

Don’t make useless resolutions you won’t keep this year. Instead, find the resolve to make lasting changes in your life.

Wishing you a Happy New Year, full of abiding love, friendship and joy!