Why You Should Be Making “Pre-Resolutions” Right Now

written by EMMA GINSBERG
Graphics by: Aryana Johnson
Graphics by: Aryana Johnson

As soon as December 1 rolls around, I get excited about the upcoming year. Maybe it’s because, at The Everygirl, we start planning holiday content in August, but it’s probably due to being a chronic forward thinker. It’s this obsession with the idea of a fresh start in the new year that has led me to elongate my resolution-making routine over the past three years—and boy, has it paid off. Ever since I started thinking about my resolutions before the final week of the year, I’ve created goals going into the new year that are infinitely more achievable, aligned with what I truly want in my life, and sustainable in the long term.

Whether you love resolutions season or resent the process of making new goals year after year (I hear you), December presents a unique opportunity to reflect on the past and consider what we want for the future. For me, setting pre-resolutions has allowed me to approach the yearly stress of resolutions with clarity and enthusiasm, and I know I can’t possibly be the only one who gets extra ~reflective~ as the year comes to a close. Here’s everything you need to know about pre-resolutions: What they are, why you need to be making them, and how they relate to the goals you’re going to crush in 2024.

What is a “pre-resolution?”

The week between Christmas and New Year’s can sometimes feel like a super-extreme case of the Sunday scaries. In the past, I’ve spent this entire week spiraling about all of the things I did not achieve in the year prior, and all of the inevitable big changes that the next year will bring. Picture me sitting in bed in my childhood bedroom, compulsively overthinking the new year and snacking on leftover Christmas cookies. If this sounds like you, you would love pre-resolutions.

Pre-resolutions are essentially journal prompts that allow you to extend the process of reflection and resolution-making throughout the entire month of December, in order to avoid already feeling behind when January 1 inevitably comes. Putting all of these thoughts on paper—from the things that didn’t work well last year to hopes for the year ahead means that when you get to resolution-setting in that last week of December or first week of January, you’ll feel less stressed and disorganized, and more intentional and motivated to incorporate new goals or routines. In other words, “pre-resolutions” means spending the month leading up to the new year focusing on reflecting and connecting to yourself so you know the right kind of resolutions to set to get you to your fullest, happiest life, rather than the empty resolutions you think you’re supposed to set every year but never get to. You can do this reflecting in one sitting, but I like to get specific and set intentions for each week leading up to the end of the year. Here’s an example of what three weeks of pre-resolution prompts might look like:

Week 1:

  • What new things have entered my life in the past year that I am grateful for?
  • When were the moments when I felt most at peace over the past year?
  • How did I show up for myself well this year?
  • What am I most proud of myself for achieving this year?

Week 2:

  • What are some things I am ready to leave behind as I transition into the new year?
  • How can I show up for myself better this coming year?
  • How can I show up better for my community and the world around me this coming year?
  • What is something I’ve been doing inconsistently this year that I want to do consistently in the new year?

Week 3:

  • What big changes do I anticipate coming this year? How can I best prepare for those changes?
  • What do I want my life to look like one year from today?
  • What are the things, people, and situations that I want to invite into my life in the new year?

Why make pre-resolutions in the first place?

Does prolonging the resolution-setting process sound like a good way to ruin the holiday season for you? If you don’t get majorly anxious about the turn of the new year or adding “pre-resolutions” sounds overwhelming, there’s no need to alter your January goal-setting process. And, just a reminder, setting goals around the beginning of the new year isn’t necessary at all—we can decide to move forward with certain objectives for ourselves whenever it feels right. But for me, setting pre-resolutions allows me to live in the moment even more during the holiday season because gratitude is a huge part of goal-setting, and I find it easiest to express gratitude when I’m surrounded by family and friends throughout December.

If you’re still not sold on pre-resolutions, consider it a part of your manifestation practice rather than a once-a-year resolution setting. Manifestation experts like Roxie Nafousi acknowledge that manifestation takes time. By contrast, the culture that we’ve built around resolutions is that they’re a once-a-year, one-and-done goal-setting ritual. Pre-resolutions turn the actual resolutions we make into manifestations by elongating the time that we dedicate to our own goals.

Ultimately, preventing the end-of-year scaries starts with realizing that we have plenty of time to achieve the things we want to accomplish, and being kind to ourselves about the resolutions we set last year that went unfulfilled. However, once you’ve worked through those emotions, having a system in place to make the resolution-setting process less stressful can make a world of difference. Personally, I can’t wait for January 1—because when it comes, I’ll be ready.