New year’s resolutions are terrible idea. They’re well intentioned, of course, and to begin with it feels great to hit January with a nice list of ideas for self-improvement. But, let’s face it, the motivation soon peters out and most of us hit February with half of them already abandoned.

So it was nice to find someone turning the idea on its head. In a TED talk earlier this year, the author Laura Vanderkam suggests imagining instead that we’re already at Dec 31 next year and making a list of five to ten things we want to have achieved by then. They could be things to do with work (a new job, a different balance of work and the rest of our lives), with our relationships with other people (including love) and with the relationship we have with ourselves (things like our health, happiness and autonomy).

I like this. Writing an advanced review of the year gives us something to work towards, a small set of goals that will feel good to have achieved when we look back on 2017. And it turns resolutions, which are like little tyrants that nag us through the year, into rewards that we can look back on and feel pride that we’ve earned.