Resolution: A firm decision to do or not do something.
Mindset: An established set of attitudes.

See the difference?

Every year millions of people set out their New Year Resolutions. And good for you. Because you are one step closer to reaching your goals.

But resolving to do something may be setting you up for failure.

Let’s start with the word ‘resolve’. How does it make you feel?

OK, I really don’t want to do this, but I have resolved myself to the fact it needs to be done.
Yeah, this is the year I resolve to finally getting this thing done.
I have to do this – it’s my resolution. (eye roll)

Resolve is a powerful word. Synonyms for resolve are boldness, courage, intention. Resolving to do something (or not do something) is a powerful decision.

So what happens when you hit your first road block? What happens if you really aren’t aligned with your resolution? What happens when you realize that the resolution you made may not be at all what you really want to do?

Unfortunately, the power we felt when first resolving to do something that turns out to be either not doable or something you really don’t want to do turns its fury on making us feel bad. Guilty. Like we ‘should’. Not happy. Resentful.

The key to successfully achieving a new goal lies in the way you approach that goal, not in the way you resolve to do just get it done.

Your attitude matters. Your mindset matters. 

What do I mean by mindset? I mean the way you approach your life. Your goals. You’re situations. Your wins. Your losses. Your achievements. Your failures. Your relationships. Your work. Your body.

Entering into your life situations with a positive outlook, excited about what might happen if you try, open to the idea of learning vs. failure – these are all part of a positive, growth mindset.

This year, instead of spending your new year planning time creating a new year resolution, I’d like you to consider the following five questions instead:

1: What Do I Want To Do?

Let’s start with identifying what the heck you WANT to do! Not what you should do. Not what others think you should do. Not what you don’t want to do but feel you have to do. Not what will make you look better but what will make you feel better?

What do you want?

Money. Prestige. More responsibility. More fun. More muscles. More time. More family. More love. More acceptance of what you want.

Be honest. Keep it real. Write your want down and don’t judge yourself. No one needs to see. No one needs to know (yet). Just get real with yourself, your emotions and your life.

While resolutions are short term focused, your desires (wants) are your anchors for long term change. 

2: What Can I Do?

Do not set yourself up for failure before you are even out of the new year gate!

Get your mindset into realistic mode. Small achievements are always better than big failures.

You have read my other blog and have defined and created some big scary goal. Now, take a moment to figure out what you can do every day, week or month to hit this goal.

But be realistic. Setting a weight loss goal is great, but if you currently don’t exercise, resolving to go to the gym 5 days a week starting January 2nd is not realistic.

Nor do you WANT to go to the gym 5 days a week because, let’s be honest here, if you wanted to go to the gym, and you could go to the gym, you’d probably already be going to the gym.

How much time can you give to your goal attainment process? How much effort? How much money? How much focus? How much energy? What can you really give to this big scary goal?

I am not letting you off the hook here! Please challenge yourself on what you can/can’t do. Keep the challenge to yourself to make change! Just allow yourself the moment of humanity to be clear about how much you can bite off.

You want to chew and swallow – not choke.

Resolving to do something that you just can’t do leads to failure. Setting your mind to realistic mode first will help you move forward – even if you move more slowly.

3: What Do I Enjoy Doing?

Fact: When you like doing something you will be inclined to do it.

For example, if you want to feel healthier and you can schedule time for exercise, if you hate going to a gym, well then…..goal over.

If you want to quit your job and you can afford to do so, if you pick up another job that you don’t enjoy, well then … goal over.

We are human. When we enjoy doing something, we will figure out how to get it done. If we don’t enjoy doing something, we’ll figure out how to make excuses not to do it.

Look at that goal for next year. Are you excited about jumping in? Is your goal aligned to having more of what you love doing in your life?

Using our above examples, if you want to feel healthier and you can schedule time for exercise, find something you enjoy doing that does not require going to a gym – dance, yoga, hiking, at home exercise machinery (I loved my Peloton).

Want to quit your job and can afford to do so? Take time to do your research on what you want to do next, where that may be (at office, working from home), find opportunities by talking to people in the field you want to enter. There IS something out there just for you – don’t settle.

Resolutions may require you to do things you don’t enjoy. Goals aligned with what you enjoy require just as much work, but chances are much better you will actually do the work.

4: What Do I Challenge Myself To Do?

Just in case you were feeling like I was letting you off the hook on new year resolution tough love, know that I’m not.

What do I want to do? What can I do? What do I enjoy doing? Sounds like a little bit of a woo woo, feel good, soft approach to goal setting Gayle!

Nope – you are not off the hook. But we’re talking about mindset here. Challenging yourself to do something you want/can/enjoy doing sets your mind on a path of optimistic change. Your mindset is positive. Hopeful. Excited. Interested. Creative. Constructive.

Moving yourself forward on whatever new year goal you have requires change of some sort. In your schedule, in your eating habits, in your security, in your monetary situations.

Winners don’t do different thingsThey do things differently” ~ Shiv Khera

So we have to change something if we want something different. Challenge yourself to make change. Give yourself a little kick in the butt. Get excited about the want/can/enjoy mindset you have already cultivated and use that as energy to open your mind and give yourself room for change.

Demanding yourself to do something different is resolution driven. Challenging yourself to do something is a more flexible way to encourage your success.

5: Journey vs. Destination

Any big goal you have in your sights will require time and patience. You will learn a lot. You will change. You may realize you are on the wrong road, which might actually turn out to be the right road.

And that journey should be fun! Because there will be soooooo much you will uncover that will support future goal attainment.

Life’s a journey not a destination!

How many times have you set a resolution (otherwise known as your destination), then gotten there, and realized you aren’t at all where you wanted to be?

I can’t stress this mindset reset enough. We have to stop being so focused on the forest that we miss the trees entirely. Because those trees are beautiful. Those trees will teach us something. Those trees will slow us down, give us information, change our course.

When taking a mindset of journey vs. destination, failure is easier to overcome. Because if something derails us, we don’t give up. We simply recognize that we need to figure out another way to success. We may realize that we are heading in the wrong directly entirely. We see missteps as simple speed bumps not pot holes.

When you resolve to do something you want to get it done as soon as possible. When you are in a mindset of growth, you enjoy smelling some of the roses along your path to success.


I want to note one other important variable to anchoring your goals to your mindset vs. resolving to get something done.


Brene Brown talks about vulnerability in her famous Ted Talk on the subject. Having a mindset of growth, of allowing failure to support us not define us, of doing things we want to do not should do, of taking our time vs. looking for immediate fulfillment – these things all require vulnerability.

Vulnerability to listen, to grow, to fail, to enjoy, to want – and to let others see our process.

Let your mindset dictate your road to your new year goal. Allow yourself to feel good along your journey.


  • Gayle Hilgendorff

    Executive Health and Leadership Coach, Thrive Global Facilitator, Author and Aspiring Blogger

    Gayle Hilgendorff Executive Health and Leadership Coach / Thrive Global Facilitator / Aspiring Blogger (corporate2carny) / Author of Live More, Work Better: A Practical Guide to a Balanced Life (Bascom Hill Publishing Group, 2015) Gayle Hilgendorff is a certified executive health and leadership coach who left her Managing Director of Human Resources position at Accenture in 2011 to found her own business focused on helping corporate executives achieve their best, professionally and personally, through better health. While at Accenture, Gayle was responsible for executive career coaching and leadership development programs for a global organization of 30,000 people. After a turning point in her own career, she realized that true leadership and professional success were founded on being a healthy person – mentally, physically and emotionally – not just working harder. Gayle’s health passion became a platform for her consulting work with corporate executives. Working with participants across the globe, she incorporates holistic health concepts into her leadership coaching. Gayle integrates basic knowledge about how eating better, moving more, and finding ways to manage stress are the true foundations for a successful personal and professional life. With science backed concepts, and easy to integrate actions, Gayle’s programs have received high praise and tangible results. Gayle’s background in the corporate world combined with her likable, easy style make her a believable, relatable coach/presenter/author who has proven success in helping people make big change.