Many popular New Year resolutions such as "lose 10 kilograms" or "run a marathon" are actually goals, not resolutions. If there is a specific achievement it's a goal, while permanent changes to your life are resolutions since you keep doing them every day and not just until a specific achievement is reached.
Photo by Michael McCullough
Psychology weblog The Happiness Project points out that goals are great for happiness but can easily cause discouragement if you don't hit your goal on time.
What if it takes longer than you expected? What if it's harder than you expected? And what happens once you've reached your goal? Say you've run the marathon. What now — do you stop exercising? Do you set a new goal?
With resolutions, the expectations are different. Each day, I try to live up to my resolutions. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but every day is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity. I never expect to be done with my resolutions, so I don't get discouraged when they stay challenging. Which they do.
The key here is to know which changes in your life should be attainable goals and which should be permanent resolutions. Do you simply want to lose 10 kilograms or do you want to exercise five days a week and cut out processed foods? If you want to be successful in weight loss perhaps you should have both goals and resolutions — the goals give you attainable milestones that keep you motivated while the resolutions help reinforce lifelong changes.