Goals versus Resolutions

January 6, 2014 — 23 Comments

This is the time of year when people tend to identify something they want to change about themselves and they make a “New Years Resolution”.

Let me go on the record as saying that I HATE New Years resolutions.

Goalnoun \ˈgōl\ : something that you are trying to do or achieve

Resolutionnoun \ˌre-zə-ˈlü-shən\ : the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem

See? There’s a difference between goals and resolutions – knowing the difference might bring you over to my anti-resolution dark side.

Roll of architectural drawings

Few people ever make a resolution that they are able to stick with – at least not with the same fervor that they started off with – despite the fact that most resolutions are admirable. According to the people who keep track of these sorts of things at the US Government, these are the most popular resolutions that are made every year:

    1. Lose Weight
    2. Volunteer to Help Others
    3. Quit Smoking
    4. Get a Better Education
    5. Get a Better Job
    6. Save Money
    7. Get Fit
    8. Eat Healthy Food
    9. Manage Stress
    10. Manage Debt
    11. Take a Trip
    12. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
    13. Drink Less Alcohol

Admit it, you’ve made a few of these “resolutions” at one time or another … we all have. While I can comfortably acknowledge that I really need to address number’s 1,7, 8, and 9, I feel pretty good about number’s 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12. The others don’t apply to me as I see it; I already (2) volunteer a lot, I’ve never (3) smoked, I (12) reduce, reuse and recycle at home and work, and I don’t want to (13) drink less alcohol … I think I might want to actually drink more.


I wrote a post back in April of 2010 that talked about the importance of setting goals because I’d like to think that I’m a goal oriented individual. You should read that highly amazing and inspirational post for yourself but for today, I’m just going to focus on what I think it means to be “goal-oriented”.

The goal oriented individual does not get distracted by the process but rather stays focused on the big picture – the goal. Determining the big picture is what the best leaders do but you have to go through the process of collecting the skills and abilities to effectively lead. You need to understand the tasks, how they come together in a plan that fulfills the objective, and how all the objectives together achieve a goal. There aren’t any shortcuts, you may have the ability to move through these categories more quickly than others, but make no mistake, you do need to go through the process.

Most of the 13 items listed above are more task or result oriented and since I am entering into uncharted waters as a business person, I am going to be spending my time trying to figure out what exactly I need to be doing to achieve my goals for 2014 – my biggest of which is to sell more work and develop business relationships. Since most of my projects come as an extension of some personal relationship, it makes sense that I need to meet more local people.


On a far lighter note, I have not been at work for just over two weeks and I think my brain is turning to mush. While I thoroughly enjoyed my time off, it will be good to get back into the office and back to work. I have spent very little of the last two weeks doing any sort of work, even less on this blog … but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been on the look out for taking pictures. I am still really enjoying Instagram and taking pictures of interesting things that I come across in my day-to-day activities. The last week of my break was spent up in Seattle visiting family and just using the camera in my iPhone, I think I took about a hundred pictures – some for me and some to share.

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

How can you not take this photo when you’re standing right there? Yes, I am well aware that a million other people already took the same photo but I don’t really care. Now I’ve taken that photo. Check.


Gum Wall at Pike Place Market

Gum Wall at Pike Place Market

This is the “Gum Wall” at Pike Place Market … and it’s super gross – but look at all that free gum!!


Lake Washington Bridge

Crossing the Lake Washington Bridge

That dark area at the bottom is the concrete barricade, not a cropped area. I don’t normally advocate taking photos while driving and in my defense, I just aimed my camera out the window and took about 15 pictures without looking – hoping one would come out okay.


XXX Root Beer

XXX Root Beer

Who doesn’t love a triple-X root beer? No one.


Lastly, my wife has asked me to start working on the plans to renovate our Master Bathroom … it’s a tall order.

Master Bathroom plan

There are a lot of things that aren’t quite right with out bathroom space and after living in the house for almost 5 years, I think my wife is right … this has got to be dealt with. I don’t actually know the timing behind when this particular project will happen, but I am going to go ahead and do the design and drawings so that I can be in a position to get a construction permit when the opportunity presents itself.

If you’re new to this blog and haven’t had the pleasure of reading the first two posts that I’ve dedicated to my master bathroom, do yourself a favor and read them now – you will be amazed.

An Architect’s House – Master Shower – June 24, 2010

Master Bath Shower – You Displease Me – October 17, 2011

Yes “Sucky Master Bathroom”, your time is coming…

Cheers, it’s good to be back at the office. Here’s to a Happy and Prosperous 2014.

Bob AIA signature

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  • ashok babu

    Best wishes Bob for the new year…

    That gum wall is gross…I am reminded of ‘the pirates of the Caribbean’ when I see that wall…

  • kArno

    I think there is only one ultimate New Year resolution for you and that is to renovate the Master Bedroom & the Bathroom 🙂
    The gum wall is interesting but I can’t imagine what it would be like during the warmer days with flies and insects buzzing around it, and the odors… gross !
    Thanks Bob and good luck with your renovation and looking forward to your next update 🙂

    • Those pieces of gum are like rocks after a small amount of time – no bugs that I’ve ever seen.

      It would certainly be in my long-term interest to get the master bathroom desalt with, it’s the one thing my wife brings up with regularity…

  • Tim

    As a recently added principal to an established firm, who also feels out of place in the realm of business development, I cant wait to see your approach on how to grow into new shoes. It’s definitely something that is on my mind everyday and I’m not sure that I have a good grasp on how I fit in yet. I have a kitchen to plan to renovate before my wife says no to my repairs of the drawer fronts falling off for the 50th time.

    • Like all the problems I solve, I will buy some books, call some people for advice, wade out into the deep water, and see what happens. My experience has been that most fruit is yielded from the process of solving the problem, not the actual solution itself

  • ParadigmGallery

    Love the gum wall…and your bathroom posts are at the top of my Bob Borson favs….happy new year!

    • what will I do once I renovate that bathroom?!? Maybe I should rethink (don’t think the wife will go for it)

  • Another great post. I like how you differentiate between resolutions which are often vague and goals which are often achievable and realistic.

    • Thanks Bridget – hope you have a terrific 2014!

  • Laura Conboy

    resolution (ˌrɛzəˈluːʃən)
    1. the act or an instance of resolving
    2. the condition or quality of being resolute; firmness or determination
    3. something resolved or determined; decision

    • I come from the world where you don’t use a word (in any of it’s forms) to define the word

      • Laura Conboy

        Touche (though this word may further prove your point).

        • If I were in a drinking and talking mood, this would probably be a very interesting conversation. I think part of what elevates a goal over a resolution is that the goal doesn’t necessarily have a solution whereas a resolution is all about a final (or finished) result.

  • conrad brown

    Regarding the bathroom, make it a priority to install a Adrian Single Hole w/Theron faucet, bidet next to the other ugly appliance. Signature Hardware has them. Your body and your wife will thank you over and over as you get older.

    • definitely something to consider …

      Thanks Conrad

  • Tamra Arch

    Great story about that bathroom, have you considered publishing it?

    a person whose native language isn’t english, I can tell you that I
    don’t find a big difference between ‘Goal’ and ‘Resolution’, I prefer to
    name it: the willing to change or to achieve something this year.. so
    if calling it a resolution will get people to achieve it, why is that
    making you so upset?
    keep it up Bob..

    • my language might suggest that I’m upset but I’m not – apathetic more likely. Since I think most things worth achieving have to do with leaving the comfort of ones familiar environment, it’s harder to define what the end product might become. Better to go with the flow, identify a point in space and work towards it.

  • Kerry Hogue

    I have set a goal go establish absolutely zero resolutions. I do that every year and it is at least one goal I accomplish. I agree that everyone should be goal oriented. That is what I advise all that I mentor: set personal and profession goals, both short term and long term. Goals are important to achieving success, however you might choose to define it.
    By the way, the latest issue of Money magazine states that 40% of those that set new years resolutions actually accomplish at least part of the resolution. go figure.

    • I would posit that only accomplishing part of the resolution is not really much of an accomplishment. [that sounded extremely harsh …] but that’s part of the reason I prefer goals