Monday, January 20, 2014

Keeping New Year Resolutions


By Philip Hemphill, PhD

How’s that New Year’s Resolution working out for you? You’re not alone or maybe you are.

Ok by now you’ve had about a month to institute the changes you pledged for the New Year. Often, these are rooted in punishments for misbehaving (i.e., overindulging) during the month of December or unrealistic expectations of yourself. Typically what follows the mystical January 1st restrictive phase (e.g., giving up… or do more …) are feelings of deep resentment and deprivation. Simultaneously, you may find yourself making comparisons to others which can lead to distorted thinking about your efforts, motivation, barriers, etc. Eventually, your self-appraisal or ‘goal discrepancy’ (i.e., the difference between your present and ideal level of accomplishment) will determine your sense of success or failure. This could lead to abandonment or continued pursuit of your pledge.

Unfortunately, this is usually the approach and path most individuals take in attempting to create change in their lives. Make no mistake; goal setting will generally improve your performance. However, the type of goal you set is a key determinant in the extent to which your goal translates into performance gains. Not surprisingly, the more difficult and specific your goals are, the greater the effort required and reward experienced through achievement. Consider these guidelines when reviewing your most recent set of goals:

1. How convinced were you that the goal was important?

2. How convinced were you that the goal was attainable?

3. Was the difficulty level of the goal chosen or accepted?

4. What was your level of commitment to your goals?

5. What plan did you have for negative feedback or failure?

6. Did you have a feedback process for showing progress?

7. Did you have a plan for managing your goals when disruptions occur?

Lastly, your best chance of achieving goals requires a commitment rooted in Self-Determination and the ability to satisfy your basic psychological needs as you pursue and attain your valued outcomes. The need for autonomy in your world, a sense of competence or mastery, and the ability to relate provide the structure for internally driven desires. This contradicts the belief that we are externally driven. I’m reminded of a wonderful example of self-determination in a recent movie I saw, All Is Loss, starring Robert Redford. Although his goal setting is based on survival and can parallel recovery, his determination to persevere in the face of grave adversity warrants reflection.

Dr. Hemphill is the Director of the Professional Enhancement Program at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services. The Professional Enhancement Program (PEP) is a comprehensive continuum of integrated behavioral health treatment services for professionals offered through Pine Grove, one of the nation’s leading treatment facilities. PEP is designed to help professionals with addictions and addictive illnesses, disruptive behavior, boundary violations, personality disorders, interpersonal difficulties, and vocational issues.

Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services is an extension of Forrest General Hospital, located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Pine Grove’s world renowned programs focus on treating gender specific chemical addiction including a specialized track for co-occurring eating disorders. Additionally, Pine Grove offers a focused substance abuse healing program for adults age 55 and over. Other Pine Grove specialty programs include a dedicated professional’s treatment curriculum and a comprehensive evaluation center. Pine Grove also features a program for patients with sexual and intimacy disorder issues. Pine Grove was established in 1984 and has provided nationally and internationally recognized health care for over 30 years.

Visit www.pinegrovetreatment.com or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.