Why? Because in my experience, it’s healthier to think about them well in advance—not in the hazy no-man’s-land of the first week of New Year, when no one knows who’s who, what’s what, or where they’re going.

According to some historians, the practice of setting New Year’s resolutions stretches back no fewer than 4,000 years. And I bet across all those millennia, people’s propensity to break their well-meaning resolutions within days has stayed pretty much the same. We are but flawed beings—and our flaws are exacerbated by improbable or unworkable goals.

As a matchmaker I work with clients not only on their dating goals, but also more broadly on their life goals. After all, on some level a person’s approach to any given aspect of their life—dating, let’s say—reflects their approach to life in general. So we talk not only about their relationship history, upcoming dates, and what they’re looking for in a life partner, but also about their career, family, and dreams.

When it gets to the festive season—and especially post–New Year—there’s an unmistakable uptick in these conversations’ intensity. On some level I believe we all feel New Year symbolizes hope, potential, and a new beginning. Yet there’s a danger of pinning too much faith on the apparent auspiciousness of New Year. I’ve worked with many clients whose resolutions have been overly ambitious, even downright unrealistic, goals that were inordinately difficult or even impossible to attain. Crucially, they’re often also oriented toward outcome, not process. In other words, I see there being too much focus on the goal rather than the experience of achieving that goal. And when someone fails to reach a goal they thought would change their life, they feel discouraged, wracked with shame and self-doubt.

What if we took a different approach? Shifted our focus away from self-denial and extreme change to empowerment and self-development? What if we started the year “early”—by consciously setting our intentions before New Year? That way we still foster growth in ourselves, but vitally allow for more flexibility, and the space to be more mindful of the ongoing challenges of our everyday lives.

As you look ahead, reflect on the last year—and ask yourself these 5 questions…

  • What are my values, and have they changed in any way?
  • What’s one thing I’m proud of having achieved or accomplished?
  • Have I discovered any interests, or found out new things I like or dislike?
  • What have my relationships been like, and how could I work to improve them?
  • What challenges have I encountered, and how would I address them differently next time?

…and then set your intentions

Now you’ve engaged in a little self-reflection, we can consider the areas for growth you may want to prioritize in 2024 (and perhaps beyond—although let’s start small, manageable, and achievable). What changes might you need to make to your outlook, perceptions, and behaviors to facilitate these priorities?

A powerful method for actualizing your intentions is to write them down as affirmative statements. This can be all it takes to motivate to put your goals into action.

Let’s say you write down the following:

I’m going to prioritize my health and diet, and strengthen my body.

Great! That’s a solid first step. Then you can be intentional by setting in place the corresponding actions. In this case that would be finding a physical activity you enjoy, creating a regular (and realistic) exercise routine, and breaking down your diet and eating habits to highlight areas for improvement.

Let’s take another example:

I’m going to focus on building and maintaining my relationships.

The corresponding actions would be to reach out to your loved ones more often, and to make time to see those who matter most to you.

A final example:

I’m going to invest in my mental wellbeing.

Brilliant! So perhaps your corresponding actions would be to find a yoga or meditation class, work on your sleep patterns, and feel more confident in saying no when your time is spread thin.

Many of my clients find it helpful to post their handwritten intentions somewhere visible at home, to serve as a daily reminder of their commitment to growth. This is especially important on bad days, when they most need a pick-me-up. When you’re feeling down or lacking motivation, a glance at your post-it notes on the wall, on the fridge, and at your workspace will remind you why you’re doing what you’re doing—and encourage you to keep going. You’ve got this.

Maclynn is a boutique, multi-award-winning introductions agency with offices in New York, New Jersey, California, and London. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles within our vast network of attractive, intelligent professionals, and our matchmakers are relationship experts in their own right. Get in touch today, and prepare for genuinely meaningful dating—just like you deserve.