Goal: an objective toward which effort is directed
In my opinion the word "Resolution" is merely saying something out loud that we want to do whereas the word "Goal" implies that a certain amount of effort or action is required to achieve it.
I also believe that any goal you set - whether it's during the New Year or anytime of the year - should be measurable and achievable. Too many people resolve to change something in their lives, but have no way to measure it's success. You can't have a resolution or goal that says: "Exercise more" because there's no way to determine if you've ever actually achieved that goal. Instead you need to have a specific task list that allows you to achieve . Instead you'd need to set the goal as: "Exercise on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday for 30 minutes each day." -- that is a measurable goal and you'll know immediately if you have achieved it or not.
Many people use the SMART system for setting goals and I think it's an intelligent way to look at the process. ( source )
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely
Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do. Ensure the goals you set is very specific, clear and easy.
Choose a goal with measurable progress, so you can see the change occur. Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, adjust your course for changes and stay on track to reach your goals.
Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set the stage for failure, but too low sends the message that you aren’t very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!
Realistic, in this case, means “do-able.” The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment.
Set a timeframe for the goal: for next week, in three months, in two years, etc. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards. If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.
I'm still formulating my list of goals for 2011. I'm also deciding on which ONE WORD will carry me through this coming year.