Writing a list of new year's resolutions

An End-of-Year Review template for better new year’s resolutions

Make next year an enjoyable, achievable and meaningful year with a reflective review

When we come to the end of a year, a lot of us decide to make resolutions for the coming year. We sit down and write our lists with the best intentions, but unfortunately many resolutions are abandoned in the first few months. Some never get started at all! 

Why is this?

Part of the problem is when resolutions are simply wishful thinking without any grounding or focus. To counteract this, I like to look at new year’s resolutions differently. Instead, I visualise new goals based on my previous year’s learning.

Set new year’s resolutions more effectively by making the process reflective

According to Atkins & Murphy, senior lecturers at Oxford Brookes University who designed a model for reflection now used in various fields, reflection is:

…concerned with consciously looking at and thinking about our experiences, actions, feelings, and answers, and then interpreting or analysing them in order to learn from them. 

Basically, we do this by reflecting about what we did, how we did it, and what we learned from doing it.  When we reflect, we delve more deeply into something that we might not otherwise have given much thought to. This helps us to learn and develop.  

Reflection is the missing key when it comes to making new year’s resolutions work

I believe that reflecting on what went well and what did not go well is a better way to set clear goals and intentions for the coming year. We’re more likely to focus on what we really want, and what’s important and therefore make our resolutions stick.

For the last few years, instead of setting my year’s resolutions, I have reflected on what I learned, what I achieved, where I failed and how I felt about my failure. This is not always comfortable, but it’s vital for self development.

Making 2020 mean something

This year, everyone has been directly or indirectly affected by the pandemic. It has had an impact on the way we engage with others, with our emotional state, and how we build resilience. It can be easy during tough times to focus on the negative and not on the possibilities. I believe that when we go times like this, it’s an opportunity to reassess what’s important to us and how to navigate changes. 

Some time ago, I put together a template to help me stay focused about what I really wanted and needed to do to move forward.  

I would like to share this template and hope this will help many of you. 

Obviously, as we are all aware, events can come out of nowhere and disrupt things. So the template is meant as a framework which you can revise throughout the year. 

A template for reflective practice

This template can be used individually or in a group in a form of game (even at work). There are no right or wrong answers… further down, I share some of my own answers.

1 – Pick between three and five words or phrases you would use to describe your year. What do those words mean to you?


2 – What are your biggest achievements or stand-out moments for this year, personal and professional? How did you feel?


3 – What are your biggest learning experiences? What are the biggest takeaways from the things that didn’t go so well?


4 – How will you use your learning experiences in the coming year?


5 – What are you most grateful for?


6 – How do you want to experience 2021?


7 – Now you can write your resolutions. Write down the following in a form of letter or a list, like you would write to Santa Claus when you were a child. 

Write down everything that you want to achieve, how you want this to happen, add the names of people who would need to be involved. Add how important those things are and how you want to feel when you achieve them. Be creative!


8 – And finally let go of the past, yes, we all had negative experiences or negative people around us but by letting this go, it let us focus on what is most important to us. So, let go of the past and move forward.

Here are some of the answers I gave in my review…

1 – Three to five words to describe your year and what those words mean to you.

Be myself: Stay in line with who I am, don’t focus on what others say. I know myself; I know what I want and what I want to become.

Growth: Failure has helped me so much in growing my business. I want to keep learning and if I make mistakes, I will cherish them.

Love: I received so much love from strangers, love has been everywhere. Without love I cannot grow and flourish.

2 – Biggest achievements or stand-out moments. How did you feel?

  • Attending online networking events, approached people and presented myself and what I do. I felt confident about attending other events.
  • I was approached by an international school to run a workshop for students who will enter the labor market in January 2021. I felt proud of my achievements to date.
  • Joined The Coach Space last year, I have improved my writing skills enormously, been creative, increased my visibility and was praised by readers about how my posts were inspiring. I felt excited to write more.
  • I was approached by approx 15 clients in less than 6 months to help them with their career change. I felt optimistic about what else to come.
  • I conducted my first coaching group over the summer. I felt ecstatic.

3 – Biggest learning experiences? 

My biggest learning experience was sticking with the decision to work for myself, my ideas and what I believe in. 

4 – How do you want to use your learning experiences for the coming year?

Focussing on helping my clients in making great changes.

5 – What are you most grateful for?

I am grateful to have met people who show me that I don’t need to be them, I can be me. And being me is enough.

6 – How do you want to experience 2021?

2021 will mean new collaboration, more travel abroad, more recognition, and more growth.

Over the holidays, make the time for introspection

Before you close up the year, reflect on your personal and professional growth and get clarity on what’s important to you. Otherwise, it’s easy to fall back in the same cycle, leaving your new year’s resolutions abandoned by the wayside. 

Whether you had a great year or trying to turn next year into something more enjoyable, this template will help you consider what could have been better, who and what you are grateful for …and remember that better years are to come.

Get ready to do great things in 2021!

Sylvia Nicolas
Verified Coach
Verified for professional standards and commitment to clients. Read more Close

Sylvia is an ICF Certified coach who can help develop your potential as a leader. Email sylvia@snhumanresourcesconsulting.com to find out more or book a free consultation with Sylvia right now.

Add comment


Stay in touch
with Sylvia

For news and offers directly from Sylvia Nicolas, simply sign up below.