I stopped making New Year's resolutions a long time ago. They are always the same--lose weight and exercise--and I never keep them for long, if at all. But goals, goals are different. As an HR director, I always made sure we set new goals every year. Not setting them meant we just did the same thing year as last year, and that was no way to stay in business.
For me resolutions tend to be "don'ts" while goals are "do's. The minute I say to myself "don't," I instantly want to. While I tend to balk at goals as well, I'm more inclined to at least try. Goals only work for me if they're reasonable and if I give myself some leeway. For instance I'm really trying to discipline myself to write more. I love writing, but let's face it, it's work. I've tried making a goal to write for a specific number of hours each day. I've set aside a time, turned on the computer and stared at the blank page, maybe even written a paragraph before I get distracted or decide there's something more important that I should be doing. Then because I have a life and I can't stay home every day, I can't write every day. So much for that goal.
Recently I decided I wanted to finish the mystery I've been working on by the end of the year. I figured out it would take writing 1000 words a day every day for the next month. For the last two days I've been able to accomplish that. This works for me. It's a finite goal with no restrictions. I can do it at ten in the morning or midnight, all at once or in increments. If I can't do all 1000 words one day, then I have to make up the difference the next day. As long as it averages out to 1000 a day, I'm still on target. Also it's a short term goal, one month, so it doesn't seem that intimidating.
Granted this works because I actually enjoy writing, so it's no real hardship. But I think there are elements here that might work for other things. For instance, maybe instead of dieting, I could make a goal to eat more vegetables.