Read these 11 Putting Your Health Plan Into Place Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Health Management tips and hundreds of other topics.
You have learned so many skills, and you are on your way to practicing, building skills and competencies that will take you to new levels of health improvement. Practice using investment terms when you are discussing your health, like “lower fat is a great investment for my heart health,” or “taking my medicine is a small investment to keep me from running up insurance bills.”
It step along the way is another reason to celebrate life. Remember that our reality is shaped by our words, our deeds, and our vision. Create a healthy, prosperous vision of yourself, for now and into the future. Multiply that vision by surrounding yourself with others who see life fully, and who are motivated to improve themselves, their community, and their relationships with others. Pause for pleasures that are natural, without guilt or remorse, enjoying the sunshine if it pleases you, and even, sometimes, enjoying the rain.
Take a few moments each day to check in with your self and re-fuel for the accomplishments of the day, including better health and another wealth dividend. Reach out if you need some help, and reach out to help someone else.
Smile and keep moving forward. You can accomplish what you can envision, and the view is always more expansive when you look forward.
You've been doing some things very well, and you deserve praise. (Reminder—rewards can be “job well done,” and they don't have to be ice cream, alcohol, or …. you understand this point!).
Use data to prioritize your changes, and keep adding data as you move toward your goals. At first you may have be a bit overwhelmed with the Value Equation, but, because you are determined, you know that you can use data—from research and from your own experience/health scores—to understand the impact of risky behaviors on your total health. You can see the value of each behavior change to your health-wealth portfolio by inserting your numbers for the impact on your health. Your objective in putting the data together and creating investment models—the formulas you created—was to determine which changes could deliver the best dividends to your health and wealth.
The idea is to convince you to care enough about your health, by linking it to your current and future wealth, to teach you a decision-making process for better investing. This process will lead you to a place where you, and only you, can decide how much you are willing to risk versus how much you want to invest in your overall quality of life, especially for the long-term. Only you can make these decisions. And, not making the decisions is just as much a response, because no change means more of exactly what you already have. High blood pressure will not resolve on its own. Arthritis will not heal by itself. Depression does not cure itself. You must make changes (visiting the doctor, taking your medicine, improving your level of exercise) in order for the risk/condition to improve. In most instances, you have the power to improve the outlook for better health.
Goals are the milestones to achieving your vision. Your mission gives you the fire to keep going. Your T.I.M.E. plan teaches you how to achieve your goals by making them succinct, direct, measurable, and modifiable.
Did you put the worksheet where you can review it easily? Keep it in your day planner or even on the calendar. Remember that without the concrete, visual plan, it's very easy to get distracted. You must create an appointment to improve, secure a time for yourself. That's the fundamental message of the T.I.M.E.© planner: write down the steps and the time needed to achieve the results.
Create a targeted business plan that gives you measurable goals to achieve your vision. Revisit that plan at predetermined intervals so you can once again determine if you are on the best path for success. Remember the rankings: it's most important to support good behaviors first. Not moving to a higher-risk category is the most important thing that you can do for your long-term health.
Consider the choices you make in achievable goals. Some of these, in every category, should be fairly easy to accomplish (such as making the appointment, AND keeping it, for your cholesterol check or flu shot). Some of these may require more information, more supports, and more effort (such as managing stress). This is where you begin to consider who you are using for consultants: your clinicians, your health plan website or care managers, reputable news services or publications. Remember, don't just accept your neighbor's advice; check it out, seek references that are worthy before you adopt new ideas or treatment.
It's very important to manage and focus on your positive behaviors, as noted. But it's also important to keep risks from developing into symptoms or conditions; if you are taking blood pressure medicine (managing a risk for long-term heart disease), don't stop. Remember, moving from the “risk” category to the “symptom” or “condition” (acute or chronic) categories really depletes your portfolio. Investing both time and effort into managing the lower-cost categories of “healthy” and “at risk” will save you time, money and costly withdrawals later. The key messages here:
-Support your good behaviors
-Follow your risk management treatment plans
-Get help early in the “symptom” category, before the symptom gets out of hand
-Be disciplined about relieving acute conditions
-Be focused on the long-term behaviors that will keep your “chronic” conditions under control, so they don't become “chronically costly.”
You need a total health plan in order to achieve optimal health and wealth. Your actions, your assets and liabilities, across the total health continuum, can help you see where small changes and big ones will deliver the best results.
Think of the continuum as a recipe for an asset-rich soup. You can't make a good soup with only water, you must add vegetables, perhaps some meat or chicken, some herbs, and more. You have to shop all the aisles of the grocery store. It's the same with your health and your wealth. You can't just focus on the seatbelt, you must also consider if walking to the store is actually better for your health altogether (you get exercise AND the groceries!).
Considering the total picture is where you began to see what actions you were doing that would impair your current and future health-wealth status. You can see how much time you are focusing on your risk/symptom/condition management as opposed to focused time on the healthy part of your life.
What healthy behaviors are you currently doing now? What could you do better, what supports can you put into your life to ensure your continued success? What risks can you begin to modify NOW, before they become health problems?
Everyone takes risks, and sometimes they are good for the soul and the body. Running a little faster is a risk if you have never run fast before. But it's a manageable risk. Make sure that you are making informed choices on how you manage your health.
Putting off prevention and wellness screenings, thinking that you can drink mocha lattes your whole life, or skipping medication “for a short time,” will not give you a positive return on your investment. Put your seatbelt on every time you get in a car; take your medication; eliminate as much refined sugar and fats as you can…these are health improvement steps you can take that will improve your wealth, and your health, now and in the future.
What are the health assets that you currently possess? What behaviors are contributing to your asset category—increasing your health every time you perform them? What behaviors are detracting from your assets—we can call these liabilities, and they subtract real dollars from your health every time you perform (for example, if you smoke), or neglect them (did you skip your annual mammogram or prostate exam?). This is the critical time to make some changes.
Review your personal health behaviors your health risks now. In your first attempts to make changes, keep the “success” measure low and fairly easy to achieve. It's a lot like opening a savings account; it's easiest to deposit the money that you were going to spend frivolously on an expensive night on the town, before you begin to look for more ways to cut back and save (cutting the lawn yourself instead of hiring someone). Go for the “lowest hanging fruit,” the items that don't require a big stretch to achieve. In this way, you'll build your confidence and begin to make bigger and better changes, bigger and better investments in your health-wealth portfolio.
Think about how you are investing: you want the biggest return on your dollar. Focus your attention to the fact that you get more return on your dollar if you NEVER develop the risk in the first place. If you don't smoke, don't start. If you have quit, don't start again. If you currently practice 30 minutes or more of activity most days of the week, KEEP IT UP! The return on investment at the level of no or low risk is the most impressive; support your best behaviors.
Your mission statement is the phrase that gets your engine going every day. It also tells you why it's going—for your family, your pet, your church, your best friend. You are inspired and motivated to do your best for an achievable mission that gets you to your destination. Keep it simple but profound. Be bold when you create it.
Think of your mission statement as the motto on the flag you carry into battle. The goal is to win. The mission tells you how and why. In battle, you may be fighting for honor and glory to the Constitution and your fellow warriors.
In your health mission, you are bound and determined to achieve better health AND wealth by reducing risks and improving health indicators, using health resources wisely to achieve your dreams. You won't achieve your mission in one day, and some days you may lose the determination. But reach down deep and it's there, driving your engine. Your body wants to be healthy, and your mind wants to succeed. Give it the energy, the focus, and the reason to do better, and your wealth will increase along the way because you didn't waste it on unnecessary health consequences.
You created a vision early in this book. How you see yourself, where you see yourself, and with whom, are all tangible parts of the vision of yourself in the future. Keep focusing on that vision, finding new ways to achieve the “desired” result.
As a working member of society, whether you work at home (and this includes stay-at-home moms and dads) or at a worksite, you have a set of job tasks that work with others' tasks to achieve corporate or family goals. If you don't show up at work, some production time is lost and a slow-down in profitability may occur.
The same is true of your health-wealth vision. You have tasks you must do. You may slack off once in a while, but, if your vision is clear, you know where you want to go, and your mind/determination/ guts will pull you there.
Remember, too, that visions can change over time. Lounging seaside in cutoffs and straw hats may morph into an apartment overlooking Central Park. But neither is fun if you don't have the money to pay for it, and it's less fun if the money isn't there because you have to spend it on health expenses that could have been managed better. If you had followed your dreams.
Managing your health as an investment portfolio is a skill that builds over time. You are building a lifeplan to improve your health and wealth. This requires a business plan, just as a corporation's Chief Executive Officer develops a plan for achieving corporate wealth. You do some research, you assemble some tools, and you choose the best consultants and teammates to ensure the success of your organization.
You have the same needs as that CEO: build a business plan that will allow you to manage your health, assemble your consultants and teammates, and set your plan in motion. As you move forward and accomplish your goals, you'll learn to better measurement tools, take more time to consider the next goals. You'll increase your health-wealth skills and you'll revise your plan as needed to keep building your health-wealth portfolio.
The hardest part may be shifting your focus away from the cost of health and towards investing in health. But this is how a CEO manages a company: what resources will be required to keep the company vital and strong? That's an investment question, and one that you need to think about, keep revisiting, and develop new skills for improving.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|