Resolutions Revisited: Help Your Patients Find Their ‘Why’

Derek Robinson, M.D. ǀ FEBRUARY 9, 2024

I’ve been participating in a monthly television interview for a local station to help build community awareness on health and wellness topics. The latest segment, Creating Healthy Goals Throughout 2024, aired in early January. In it, I offered tips on setting healthy goals and ways to follow through and keep those resolutions. I’m sharing some highlights that I hope may be helpful to you and your patients.

The Pressure To Measure Up

Whether or not your patients made any New Year’s resolutions, they may have a wish list of things they’d like to change about themselves, like losing weight, decreasing stress, or quitting smoking. Often these goals relate to making healthy lifestyle choices. But it can be hard to know where to begin and, right out of the gate, it may be tempting to set the bar a bit too high.

The first step may be encouraging patients to be more realistic about what they want to achieve, and what success looks like for them. Instead of vowing to squeeze back into a high school prom gown, signing up to run a marathon, or resolving to become a professional body builder without sufficient training or preparation, for example, it might be wiser to establish more practical, sustainable goals.

Starting Small – Tips To Reset Patient Expectations

An action plan that focuses on making slight changes may be the most effective because it’s easier and more attainable. Along those lines, here are 5 tips I suggested to viewers – beginning with consulting their physician:

  • Schedule health or wellness visits for the year – primary care, dental, eye exam, mammogram, etc. Why wait until later in the year? Check in with your doctor to discuss your health and wellness goals and how to safely achieve them.
  • Focus on eating healthier, little by little. Increase water intake, add more fruits and vegetables, watch portion sizes 
  • Keep moving. Thirty minutes of moderate intensity exercise over five days is optimal. If you don’t have 30 minutes, break it down into 10-minute sets. Everyday movement counts, such as going up and down stairs or parking a little further away from the grocery store entrance.
  • Connect with others. Go for a walk with a friend, join a club, take a class, volunteer in your community. Social interaction can boost your spirits, which is good for your health in many ways.*
  • Stay sharp. In addition to exercising your body, you need to exercise your mind. Try learning something new. Make it challenging but fun.

The Challenge

Your patients may have identified “what” goals they want to achieve, along with a bit of the “how” – such as the day-to-day tips above. However, once the ball is rolling, keeping the momentum going becomes the challenge.

In the Creating Healthy Goals Throughout 2024 segment, I mentioned the fact that the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions can be as high as 80% – with most people losing their resolve about halfway through February. Among other reasons, abandoned resolutions may be due to lack of time to commit, impatience to see faster results, or making a mistake and feeling defeated.

So, what can we do to help patients stay motivated?

Focus On the Why

In addition to encouraging your patients to start small, with an emphasis on celebrating small wins, you can help them prepare for the inevitable low spots, missteps, or detours along the way by inviting them to focus on their why – their purpose or what’s motivating them to want to make changes in the first place.                                             

Would they like to feel more confident about the way they look? Do they want to set a good example for their children or others who may look up to them? Do they want to be able to take better care of their pets? Do they want to stay independent for as long as possible? Do they want to be able to keep up with their grand kids?

Considering the why may help your patient shift their perspective, find inner strength, and focus on the positive. Patients may start to see that there are no failures; rather, there are only opportunities to dig deeper and find an even greater resolve to continue realizing their health and wellness goals.

Revisiting resolutions with your patients and gaining an understanding of what motivates them may be helpful to you too, paving the way for future discussions, such as why it’s important to follow prescribed treatment plans and get all recommended screenings.

In closing …

On behalf of all of us here at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for continuing to partner with us to support the health and wellness journeys of our members, their families, and the larger community.

As always, we appreciate your time and value your feedback. If you have any comments you’d like to share, please email our Blue Review editor.

*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, How Does Social Connectedness Affect Health? Accessed Jan. 28, 2024.

The above material is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician or other health care provider. Physicians and other health care providers are encouraged to use their own medical judgment based upon all available information and the condition of the patient in determining the appropriate course of treatment. References to third party sources or organizations are not a representation, warranty, or endorsement of such organizations. The fact that a service or treatment is described in this material is not a guarantee that the service or treatment is a covered benefit and members should refer to their certificate of coverage for more details, including benefits, limitations, and exclusions. Regardless of benefits, the final decision about any service or treatment is between the member and their health care provider. Further, the information presented is not intended to replace or supersede any requirements set forth in your contract with BCBSIL. Any samples or suggestions in this publication are for illustrative and/or educational purposes only and should not be relied on in determining how a specific provider will be reimbursed.