Stop setting new years resolutions!

Thomas Singerlé-Florus
5 min readDec 22, 2022


Photo by Polina Kovaleva (

It’s this time of the year. December is coming to an end and along with that, the stressful time to “make new years resolutions” has come.

This tradition is taking place since 2000 BC when the Babylonians used to celebrate Akitu in march, which was their new year fest. At this time, they were reaffirming their loyalty to the sovereign in place promising that they will give back the agricultural tools borrowed from their owner or pay their debts to avoid the wrath of the gods.

Besides the fact that the resolutions we’re taking are more numerous and that we celebrate the new year in January (thanks to Jules Cesar), this tradition still stands 4000 years later.

But in this article, I want to bring your attention to the adverse effects of taking new year’s resolutions and tell you why you shouldn’t do it anymore. At least, you should do it differently.

Let me explain.

The difference between resolutions and goals

Taking a new year’s resolution is empowering at the time we do it. When you write everything down, you feel the urge to stick with it. You want to change stuff and you’re more motivated than ever.

But when it comes to reviewing your past year and the resolutions you wanted to take, it’s not the same feeling anymore. Suddenly, you probably feel discouraged and stressed by the things you haven’t done.

You immediately have a sentiment of failure.

You feel like a failure because you failed at sticking to your resolutions and this is maybe one of the worse feelings you can have.

This is exactly why I stopped taking resolutions. They practically never work. Several surveys show that less than 10% of people making new year’s resolutions feel like they kept them. And since COVID, fewer and fewer people decide to make resolutions.

People don’t want to make them because they don’t want to fail them.

This is why, instead of making resolutions, you should set goals for the upcoming year.

The difference between a resolution and a goal is simple. A resolution is a statement of what you want to change. A goal is a statement of what you want to achieve.

When you make a new resolution you will just say what you want, for example: to save money. But when you set a goal, you have to define the steps you need to take and the deadline by which you have to achieve it. The goal suddenly feels less vague than the resolution. And it is very important because what doesn’t work with the resolution is that you are never making a concrete plan.

If we stick to our example of saving money, it will no longer just be this statement. But we can make a plan that will help us achieve it. So maybe we’ll have:

I want to have savings by the end of the year, so I have to:

  • Analyze my finances
  • Cut off useless payments and subscriptions
  • Optimize my spendings
  • Get off debts
  • Start a side business

With each goal you’ve set, you’ll be able to create a to-do list or roadmap or checklist, call it whatever you want. The important point here is that now, you have a plan.

When to set new years goals

Most people will tell you that you need to reflect on goals during December so that you’ll have your list ready for January 1st. I think they’re wrong.I set myself goals throughout the year. Sometimes, these are goals I can achieve during the current year or things I want to do next year.However, I also take a specific moment to reset my mind. I also do it every day, for weeks and months.

In this specific case, I like to sit down, during the Christmas holidays, to review the past year and start to think about the goals I will set for myself for next year.

It is pretty easy as I write down my goals on my phone and computer (in Apple Notes actually). This helps me keep track of my goals and reminds me of what I want to accomplish next year.

How to set new years goals

My yearly reset (as I like to call it) is composed of two steps

  1. Review past year and goals
  2. Reflect on future goals

As I said, I always keep track of my goals on my note-taking app. The first thing I do is to review all the goals I’ve set for the current year and check I’ve completed the plan I’ve set for each one. This will allow me to say if I have achieved my goal or not.

Then, I’ll take every goal I haven’t achieved and re-evaluate them. If it is still something I want to do, I will put it on my new note and treat it like a new goal. If it is not, I will just let it on the old note and do nothing about it.

Once it’s done, I then take time for myself to reflect on what I want to achieve next year. For each thing I want to do, I will write it in the same way and then make a plan for it.

The sentence I use to describe all my goals is:

I want to by , so I have to:

  • Step 1
  • Step 2

This sentence helps you keep a clear statement about what, when, and how you want to achieve your goal.

The complicated thing to do here is to make a plan. To do it easily think about it as subtasks.

Let’s take our example about savings:

I want to have savings by the end of the year, so I have to:

Here, we can define some simple first steps:

  • Analyze my finances
  • Cut off useless payments and subscriptions
  • Optimize my spendings
  • Get off debts

You’ll see that it is really easy to do. If you don’t know what steps to define for each goal, it’s OK. Just write down all your goals and you’ll have the entire year to define the steps you need to take to achieve it.


Setting goals is a very important thing. And it is way more efficient and productive than making resolutions.

You’ll also feel more encouraged and inclined to achieve your goals and won’t feel the feeling of failure anymore.Just keep in mind that it is okay if you don’t achieve a goal you’ve set for yourself.

The important thing is to complete the more steps you can to come closer to your goal. If you haven’t achieved something, keep in mind that you still have time.

With that, I’m wishing you a happy new year.