Change is Hard
What we’d most want our friends and loved ones to know
Let’s be honest with ourselves – changing adult behavior is one of the most difficult things to do. It’s really, really hard.
If a person wants to change, then those around them can help – including others in the ChooseWell community. If they don’t want to change, they’re unlikely to respond well to changes imposed on them by outsiders. But it is possible that a loved one can motivate them towards their own good.
How we might help
One of the challenges in changing our behaviors (even when we really want to), is that it’s hard to imagine what the future might look like or feel like. All we can appreciate is the difficulty of getting to this uncertain place.
There is no one canned solution to the same question for any two individuals when it comes to our health, wellness, and sick care. If a person wants help and is willing to accept outside advice, we might be able to help imagine a better future and empower change by providing education and support, uncovering options, and connecting with other resources.
But that doesn’t mean it will be easy. Nothing worthwhile is.
Early in the 1600’s, the owner of a fleet of British merchant ships was struggling with very high mortality rates on his trade routes to India and the West Indies. Up to half of the sailors on every journey perished while underway. The owner turned to his physician for help.
After a series of controlled experiments, the physician returned with an apparent solution; one lemon, lime, or orange per sailor per day to prevent scurvy. The results were immediate and unequivocal, and every one of his ships from that day forward left port so provisioned. Further, the owner of the fleet insisted that his physician publish the findings as broadly as possible, and specifically send all of his data to the British Navy.
As a result, the British Navy also adopted the same practice of one piece of citrus fruit per sailor per day.
But not until 150 years later.
Paraphrased from The Diffusion of Innovations.
The moral of the story? Changing our behavior is difficult. Even when we know that continuing our present behaviors will kill us. But we can choose to overcome our innate resistance to change with resolve, education, tools, and support. And most important, we can reap the rewards of change and of making good choices.
The tools and the education are the easy part. The real key to taking charge of our health and wellness, and to driving value based decisions when consuming sickness services and products, is our own individual resolve to drive those changes. Most of us already know that fruits and vegetables are better for us than donuts and cheeseburgers. Optimizing personal health will only come when the information and tools are applied – by each of us individually – to good effect.
“Too often in life, something happens and we blame other people for us not being happy or satisfied or fulfilled. So the point is, we all have choices, and we make the choice to accept people or situations or not accept situations.”
– Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots
Success stories abound. Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, chronic pain, some allergies, and some cancers can be completely avoided, or even cured with sound personal lifestyle habits. And if we assert ourselves, we can make more informed, value based decisions when we do need to consume healthcare related services.
The key is that these changes cannot be imposed on an individual by someone else. Each of us needs to decide whether to take charge of our health and wellness and optimize our quality of life, or to let ourselves drift along within the influences of the food and sickness industries, who profit from our apathy.
If you’re not ready for or interested in achieving optimal wellness, or in making good value based decisions, then we thank you for at least reading this far. If something changes in your life and your interest is rekindled, please come back. Or at least apply the basics on your own; fruits and veggies over processed food. Exercise. Sleep well. Decompress your sources of stress. Connect with your God and with those around you.
If, on the other hand, you’re ready and willing to take charge of your health and become a value based consumer, then read on.
Oh … and one final thought. If you’re tempted to wait around until someone else fixes our problems with wellness and value based consumption of sick care services, you’re likely to be waiting a long, long time.
Recently, a friend of mine (let’s call her ‘Gina’) was asked by a mutual acquaintance (I’ll call him ‘Bill’) to take a look at Bill’s business and offer some advice. Bill runs a delivery firm that specializes in using mini-vans and other fairly small delivery vehicles to navigate the congested streets of big cities. His problem is that the maintenance of his vehicles is his second largest cost element (behind the salaries of his staff), and maintenance costs were spiraling out of control. Why? It seems that – with stunning predictability – Bill’s vehicles were breaking down at right around 80-85,000 miles. Some made it as far as 110,000, and a few broke down as soon as 50,000, but about 80% were in that tight window right around 82,500 miles. Rods were thrown, and engines often just started smoking and were even starting on fire.
Repair costs were high, and the loss of productivity while a vehicle was in the shop was also a major factor. The problem was made worse by increasingly expensive technologies used to diagnose, repair, and replace worn engines. Due to the size of his fleet, Bill had to use many mechanics, but the quality and costs of similar services varied wildly from mechanic to mechanic. Bill had an insurance policy (as all of his competitors did – they all faced the same problems) that was supposed to cover the repairs, but as the costs went up, there were growing tensions between the insurance company and mechanics about the best procedures and the most cost effective replacement parts. The mechanics were angry about constraints being imposed on them while practicing their trade, and the insurance company, lacking any other options, continually raised Bill’s annual premiums and began limiting the repairs they would cover and what they’d pay for each type of repair. To make it even worse, not all private car owners carried repair insurance, and so when one went to the mechanic and couldn’t pay, Bill had to pick up a share of the expense through escalated prices on his services.
So Bill did what many business owners do when confronted with a frustrating problem; he hired one of the largest and most reputable consulting firms available. They took months studying the problem and came back with a long, detailed report on possible actions he could take. They included;
Lobbying his legislators to enact laws that required all car owners to carry car repair insurance.
Advocating for advances in technology that would make engine repairs more efficient and effective.
Raising the prices on his delivery services to cover the increasing costs of vehicle maintenance.
Bill spent several hours laying this all out in front of Gina, and Gina could easily see his frustration. Gina came back the next day with her conclusions and recommendations on a single post-it note. On it, she had written ‘Start changing your oil’.
Bill sputtered for a moment, then replied. ‘Oh, Gina, I can’t do that. An oil change costs $45 per vehicle and I’d have to do it every 4000 miles. That means I’d lose 2 hours of productivity that often as well. The big consulting firm didn’t make any similar recommendation. None of my competitors do this. I just don’t know.’ Gina replied by pointing out that the cost and lost productivity of preventative maintenance was offset ten-fold by the almost total elimination reactive/emergency maintenance. Further, it could be predicted and planned, thus minimizing loss of productivity. Finally, she pointed out that preventative maintenance meant the vehicles could often go to 200-300,000 miles and beyond before a major repair, and if those major repairs were done by specialized mechanics with well documented best practices and quality metrics, costs could be contained and outcomes could be much more predictable. The vehicles would also have a usable lifespan far greater than they currently did. And as an additional bonus, the overall condition and capability of the vehicles in their later miles would be much better than they currently were.
Bill was perplexed. The financial return on investment that Gina laid out seemed straight forward and compelling. More importantly, he actually loved his vehicles and it hurt him immensely to see them go in for catastrophic maintenance. But he’d never done oil changes before, and it seemed difficult to get his head around this new way of thinking about the problem. Bill had assumed that the problem was beyond his ability to impact; that the consultants, mechanics, insurance companies, auto parts manufacturers, and the government would eventually come up with the solution to lower the cost of maintenance and improve quality.
He was just one small businessman. Surely he couldn’t fix the problem himself. As Gina quietly walked out, he picked up the thick report with all the graphs from the consultants, and slowly flipped through it again.
But he trusted Gina.
That’s when it dawned on him; the very same consultants, mechanics, insurance companies, and auto parts manufacturers he was counting on to fix the problem where completely financially invested in the status quo. If he started changing his oil, their revenues would plummet. Now that he was really thinking about it, he remembered several articles he’d read about how all of them lobbied government – the biggest insurer of them all – to keep things just as they were.
Maybe Gina was on to something. Bill couldn’t easily fix the system, but he could start changing his oil, extending the useful life of his vehicles, and saving money.
Bill suddenly realized it was entirely within his own power to fix his own fleet.
Remember: We coach, support, educate, and empower. We illuminate options you may not have known you had. But we don't decide what's right for you in your unique circumstances; only you can do that. And we don't provide medical, financial, or legal advice; nor do we replace the valuable counsel of those who do.