​Setting Goals, Not Resolutions

Posted by Stephanie Woodward in Life After Paralysis on January 06, 2023 # Lifestyle

Giana, an EmpowHer Camp participant, holds her Leader Log and smiles. Most people who know me know that I am a goal-oriented person. I love creating goals, writing them down, and creating action plans to achieve them. Every year I set new goals for myself in a variety of different areas, including health, financial, career development, personal growth, and relationship goals.

I set goals – not resolutions – because goals allow me to work towards something and make progress in a way that resolutions do not. A resolution, by definition, is a decision to do or not do something, whereas a goal is the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.

Setting a resolution is setting a general intention for yourself without a plan to get there. Setting a goal allows for more specificity and an opportunity to create a roadmap to reach that goal. For example, I could set a resolution to work less and spend more time with my friends in 2023, or I could set a goal to only work 45 hours per week in 2023 and spend time with a friend (in person or virtually) one evening per week. The specificity of the goal will help me to hold myself accountable, and it will also help other people to hold me accountable when I share my goals with them.

I am such a proponent of goal setting that most of our programs at Disability EmpowHer Network involve setting and working towards goals. For example, our EmpowHer Camp program is a yearlong leadership and mentoring program for transition-age girls with disabilities where we focus on goals. During the first week of EmpowHer Camp, we camp together in the Adirondacks and our participants set two goals: the first is a goal for a community project they want to complete by the end of the program and the second is a personal goal they want to achieve by the end of the yearlong program. They formulate goals with the help of their mentors, then they create Leader Logs. Leader Logs are posters that each participant creates that list a bit about themselves, what they learned after a week in EmpowHer Camp, and what their goals are for the year. On our last night of camping, participants share their Leader Logs with the entire group, explaining the goals that they want to achieve by the time we reunite next year.

Through our EmpowHer Camp program, we’ve found that setting goals is important, and sharing them with your friends and mentors can be even more important because they can help you to stay motivated by checking in with you on your progress and offering feedback. In our Class of 2022, we found that 100% of our participants completed their community projects with the help of their mentors and more than 75% reached their personal goals. For the participants who had not yet reached their personal goals, they reported that they have made progress towards their goals that they are happy with.

Our EmpowHer Camp results are consistent with research. For example, one study found that people who write down their goals are significantly more likely to achieve their goals. Additionally, this same study found that people who share their goals with supportive friends and provide updates on their goals to their friends are even more likely to achieve their goals.

With all of this in mind, this New Year try skipping the resolutions and set goals instead. Write your goals down and create action plans to achieve them. Pick an accountability buddy who is also setting goals, that way you can share your progress and support each other to reach your goals in 2023!

Stephanie Woodward is an attorney and Executive Director of Disability EmpowHer Network, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering girls and women with disabilities. Stephanie is passionate about seeking justice for marginalized communities - and has an arrest record to show for it. As a proud disabled woman and civil rights activist, Stephanie is committed to bringing more women and girls with disabilities to the forefront through mentoring and activism.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.