New Years resolutions are stressful. I never understood why I'd break out into (theoretic) hives when we'd go around the dinner table and my parents would ask us what our resolutions were for the upcoming year.
The word is black or white. To do or not to do. There is no in-between. It doesn't allow for baby steps or slow progressions. We almost set ourselves up for failure. As humans we are constantly changing our minds and re-evaluating as we tread through life. What I don't like about resolutions is that they focus on the end result, rather than what it takes to get there. ("It's the Journey, not the Destination" must be a cliché for a reason, right?)
I think that's why New Years resolutions almost always fail (and leave people feeling like failures - at least I do!) There's usually no daily plan of action or small goals implemented to reach the desired result.
What I like about goals is that they allow space and time for improvement. Wiggle room incase you screw up, which is bound to happen as part of the whole human being package (I bet extraterrestrials never screw up, they're definitely sniffing some Mars powder / Moon dust that makes them perfect).
Goals require effort (Merriam Webster says so, not me!). I like that the word requires actionable steps. It's a little more scrappy (and fewer syllables) than resolutions. I feel like I should be sipping tea, wearing a lace bonnet and speaking in a British accent to use the word resolutions. Goals is just your average cup of joe (maybe with a splash of milk), going about his day, just trying to get by, like the rest of us.
I've had a list of "Life Goals" (super nerd alert) written down on a piece of paper (that my Dad stole once and laminated after he got a laminator machine for Christmas one year and decided that everything and anything needed to be laminated). I usually just try to reflect on that list and see how I'm progressing towards it, instead of making new ones year-over-year. Sometimes (more often than not) I'm really off track. I used to stress about this a lot. Lately I've tried to cut myself some slack. Without the added pressure to achieve things on a yearly basis, I've found that I'm much happier in the present, able to reflect on the past in a healthy way (and not beat myself up about things that I can't change), and plan small, attainable goals for the foreseeable future.