How do we start a journey? We decide we’re going to work, home, to Boston, the Cape, a destination. Then we plan the route and adjust it as impediments arise (traffic, construction, weather). Same for our health journey – where are we headed? For me since I have a chronic, deteriorating condition, I’m headed to a place that’s not worse – maintain function, keep a positive outlook, and keep fitting into my hand-made vests. These are my health journey destinations. I struggle in my very busy life, to keep my destination in mind. I keep a focus on those activities, habits, and treatments that are likely to get me to my destination – working, exercise, diet, music, family. I maintain function by walking, triking, blowing my baritone sax, working creatively, continual learning. I keep my positive outlook by controlling the circles I travel in, spending time with my family, and working with my doctors on my pharmaceutical intake. I avoid popping buttons on my hand-made vests with exercise and calorie control. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with keeping this all together with the overlay of fatigue I can feel. The art for me is stopping doing some of the things I really like doing because it doesn’t specifically help me on my journey. Don’t volunteer for something, back out of another thing if I can, don’t eat that great piece leftover of birthday cake in the fridge. Keeping the end in mind.
One of the magic levers impacting best health is automatically using widely accepted, well tested practices (evidence-based practice). For example hand washing. Seems like a no brainer – washing hands between patients for professionals, before caring for your loved one, after going to the bathroom for everyone. Another is limiting antibiotic use to treat viruses. Also preventing or reversing obesity. I’m fascinated how hard it is for professionals to change practice informed by widely accepted research or even common sense. Is it similar to maintaining good life habits? I suspect that inertia plays a major role. It’s hard to change gears in a busy productive life. Heck, its hard to change gears in an unproductive life. How do we get the stars in alignment to do the right thing when we definitely know what the right thing is? How do you effect change in your professional and personal life? What are key factors that others can replicate? We spend so much money and human capital on trying to change behavior – consultants, training, how-to-manuals. What works? Being able to change habits is a superpower.