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Make A New Year’s Intention vs. Resolution

December 22, 2021

POTSDAM, NY – As 2022 is appearing on the horizon, this New Year’s Eve think about setting an intention for the coming year instead of a resolution.

“We recommend intention setting,” noted St. Lawrence Health Behavioral Health Lead Clinician Emma Brackett, LCSW, CASAC. “Intentions are compassionate invitations, or calls to action, about something you want to do, rather than something you do not want to do but feel you should.”

An intention might be something you want to have more or less of in your life. For instance, instead of making a resolution to lose weight, make an intention to nourish your body with healthy foods; or instead of resolving to exercise more, intend to find joy in moving your body.

“While resolutions are typically behavior-based and do not produce lasting change, an intention can lead to a deeper and more permanent mindset and lifestyle changes,” Ms. Brackett said.  

“When making an intention you do not have to do it alone. Often times a group can provide support, guidance, and accountability to assist you along, or a meeting with a professional might be the avenue you take along your path,” she added.

The idea of making a New Year’s resolution started with the Babylonians in 2000 B.C., and has morphed considerably throughout history. In today’s society, a resolution may actually be damaging to some people’s mental health.

“Resolutions are often based on unrealistic expectations, and are fueled by external pressure or shame,” stated Canton-Potsdam Hospital Director of Inpatient and Outpatient Substance Use Disorders Emily Marquart, LMHC, NCC. “When we ‘fail,’ as the majority of people do by mid-February, we can be left feeling disappointed, guilty, and self-critical.  

“Resolutions are outcome-based and focus on perfection, which may never be achievable, while intentions value the process and embrace imperfection,” she added.

Using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goal format can be a pathway towards change. It also allows you the leigh way to slip up and start again without being hard on yourself.

​“The transition into a new year is a great opportunity to reflect on what you are grateful for from the past year, or set an intention of gratitude for the New Year. This might include something as simple as smiling and saying thank you more,” Ms. Marquart said.

Learn more about St. Lawrence Health’s Behavioral Health services, Substance Use Disorder services