How To Turn Your Resolution Into A Goal (And Actually Accomplish Something!)

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Welcome to the New Year, everyone! I hope you’re ready to kick some butt!

While everyone is patting each other on the back and complimenting each other on their wonderful New Year’s Resolutions, over here at iHeartBudgets we’re getting our wimpy budgets in shape by kicking lame “resolutions” to the curb and coming up with something strong and durable…


And before we jump in to the details of how to pump those weak-sauce resolutions with some goal-juice, let’s talk about what a resolution and a goal actually are.

Resolution: Defined

Straight from the dictionary:

A firm decision to do or not to do something.

WHOA! Life changing, huh? Setting a resolution for yourself is a “firm decision”…..but that’s about it. There’s not much more to it, except the actual “doing” (or “not doing”) part of it.

Good luck 🙂

Goal: Defined

Straight from the dictionary:

The object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.

Now we’re getting somewhere. A goal puts something tangible in front of you to “aim” for. It clarifies exactly what you want to do. It also gives you the clear picture to build the blueprints for your “desired result.”

The Problem With Resolutions

January is kind of magical. For some reason, you get to just put aside all the worries of yesteryear and start fresh. You have confidence, anticipation and RESOLVE that this year will be different, THIS YEAR WILL BE BETTER!

People try to force this change by way of using vague resolutions to “change” or “do better.” The problem is that most don’t actually have the resolve to really change. You can find this evidence in the gym every year. January is the month that all the regulars dread because all the “Resolutioners” drop in for 3 – 4 weeks to try to “change” their lifestyle. But by February, all the people that were there in December are still there, and the “Resolutioners” are gone.

The solution to this problem is GOALS!

“But Jake, I’ve only got a list of resolutions here, what the junk do I do with these worthless things?”

I’m glad you asked.

Let’s Turn Those Resolutions Into Goals!


I googled the top New Year’s Resolutions, and am going to show you how to convert these (and any resolution) into a goal so you can actually accomplish what you want to do this year! Here’s the SIMPLE FORMULA for giving these puny resolutions some muscle:

RESOLUTION + “Specific Result” + “When” + “How” = AWESOME GOAL

I’m going to lose weight this year!

This HAS to be the number 1 resolution of all time. And for good reason! Losing weight is awesome, and this would benefit most people. But it’s a DUMB resolution, because there is no real definition around it. And just walking around like “man, I really hope I can lose weight this year. I even set a resolution!” isn’t going to get you there. Let’s transform it!

Resolution: “I’m going to lose some weight”


Specific Result: “I’m going to lose 25 pounds! Woop!”


When: “By the end of June!”


How: “By working out 3 times per week for 30 minutes”


Goal: “I’m going to lose 25 pounds in 6 months by working out 3 times per week for 30 minutes”.

I’m going to get a better job this year!

This is another great resolution. No one wants to be stuck at a dead-end job they hate, so getting a better one is an awesome resolution. But just having the RESOLVE to get a new job won’t get you there. Let’s make it happen!

Resolution: “I’m going to get a better job”


Specific Result: “I’m going to get a job in IT”


When: “By the end of September!”


How: “By finding jobs I would enjoy, reading the job descriptions, getting the education/skills needed, building a sweet resume to fit those jobs, joining LinkedIn and using my network to apply!”


Goal: “I’m going to get a new job in 9 months by finding jobs I would enjoy, reading the job descriptions, getting the education/skills needed, building a sweet resume to fit those jobs, joining LinkedIn and using my network to apply!”

I’m going to save money this year!”

This is my favorite goal (surprise, surprise…). Saving money is something many of us feel helpless about, but it’s one of the things we have the most control over. But again, just have the “resolve” to save money isn’t enough. Let’s sprinkle the magic goal-dust on this thing!

Resolution: “I’m going to save money!”


Specific Result: “I’m going to save 25% of my take-home pay!”


When: “Every month!”


How: “By GETTING ON A FREAKING BUDGET! (didn’t see this one coming, eh?). I am going to go to www.iheartbudgets.net, read through the Budgeting Basics Series, and ACTUALLY DO IT! For motivation, I’ll reading through some Real Reader Budgets and get inspired. Then I will do the things that my budget says, like stop wasting money on new cars, get on eMeals to cut our $1,000 food bill down, and generally enjoy my life more knowing where my cash is headed.”


Goal: “I’m going to save 25% of my income every month by getting on a budget at iHeartBudgets.net.”

Do This Exercise And Comment Below

I love to hear people’s New Year’s Resolutions. And I love helping them transform them into real, attainable goals. And I’d love to hear yours!

In the comments below, give me your resolution (or more than one if you’re ambitious) and apply the simple GOAL TRANSFORMATION FORMULA to it. I’d love to see your results! 🙂

Thanks for reading, and have a happy, goal-centered New Year!

photo credit: Beniamino Baj via photopin cc

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade has been a nationally-recognized personal finance expert for the past decade. He has written professionally for The Balance, The Spruce, LendingTree, Investing Answers, and other widely-followed sites. 
He’s also been a featured expert on CBS News, MSN Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, Go Banking Rates, and AOL Finance.

In 2018, Jacob quit his job and his family decided to sell everything (including their home) to take off on an adventure. They traveled the country in an RV for nearly 3 years, visiting over 38 states, 20+ national parks and eventually settling in the sunshine state!

14 thoughts on “How To Turn Your Resolution Into A Goal (And Actually Accomplish Something!)”

  1. I’ve been submerged in self-help videos the last month or so, and the failure to accomplish goals can be summed up by one of two reasons: 1.) They have no idea how to accomplish their goal 2.) They don’t want it bad enough. Of course, if you look at #1, if you wanted it bad enough you would do research and educate yourself on how to make it happen. So it all boils down to #2 – You. Just. Don’t. Want. It. Bad. Enough. Let’s keep it real, for most people (hey, I’ve been there), then things get inconvenient or difficult? We quit.

    • That’s a great segway for a possible Part 2 to this article. Now that you’ve defined the goals, HOW DO YOU STICK TO THEM? Since we’ve answered the “how” and “when” with our goals, we need to nail down the “why”, otherwise it’s easy to lose steam. Good call!

  2. I think I have this down pat because my goal for the year is to lose 20 pounds by the end of May. I am getting there by performing physical activity (running, biking, hiking, weight lifting, etc.) 6 days a week. When I read your post, I was excited to see that my specific formula is what you recommend.

    I’ve also realized in years passed I failed on my goals because they were vague. The lesson: the more specific, the greater the chance of success!

  3. My goal this year is to help participants accelerate their journey along the road to financial freedom.Am looking forward to achieve that. I’ve released in the passed years have succeed on my goals.Thanks for this article.

  4. You’ve laid out a good outline for making goals. Goals have to be realistic, specific, measurable, and have a time frame. Saying “I want to lose weight” isn’t going to cut it. That’s so vague. Putting some clarity behind the goal with meaty details really helps bring it into focus…and ultimately helps us achieve it.

  5. Epic post on resolutions! I especially like how simple your steps are for narrowing it down and figuring out HOW to accomplish the goal. For 2015 I want to get started investing in dividend stocks + 30% of after tax pay + on a monthly basis =)

  6. I love this post! A lot of people put efforts in coming up with yearly resolutions but never actually put effort in realizing these. I’ve always had yearly aims but I’ve called them my “yearly to-do list” so I know I have no choice but to tick them off before the year ends. This year I’m giving myself deadlines in replenishing my emergency fund, travel fund, and retirement savings. This keeps me on track with my finances.

  7. I’m going to pay off my car this year. I will do this by adhering to the budget I created (thanks to iheartbudgets.net) and building up my side business doing tax returns. If I manage to stick to my budget, my car will be paid off by the end of October.

    • Good luck on the tax returns. I did them for 4 years, great side gig. Plus you learn a TON! And you’ll knock out that car loan, no doubt. Just remember WHY, and the motivation will get you there MUCH quicker!


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