High-achievers know how to pivot.

If you’ve enjoyed success in business for any length of time, you know the value of setting goals, pursuing a plan, and pivoting when data or circumstances dictate. You’re dedicated to the goal, not the tactics it takes to get there.

As a concierge physician, I frequently see high-achievers apply that same impressive drive to their health goals. The one missing piece, however, is often an awareness that health goals require pivots, too.

For health, following a predetermined path with dogged determination may seem laudable, but in reality, it can leave you burned out, shipwrecked, and discouraged. Let’s talk about why, and how to find a road that actually leads you to success.

Many Paths, One Goal

Imagine you want to climb a mountain. Many trails lead to the top of this particular mountain, some long and winding, some short and steep. You decide on a fairly well-traversed option of moderate difficulty, and you throw everything at it.

You get the right shoes, the right rations, and the right bear spray, and you commit to finishing this thing.

You begin, and it goes well for a while. But at some point, you encounter difficulties. Maybe the terrain is too rugged. Maybe a sheer cliff blocks your path and — just your luck — you forgot your climbing gear. You consider pushing onward, but you know it will take longer at best, or injury and failure may result at worst.

If getting to the top is truly your goal, the best option is to look for another path, even if that means backtracking a bit.

Pursue the Goal, Not the Path

In our practice, we see a lot of high-performing individuals with busy lifestyles, successful careers, and a desire to commit to something they know will work. It’s an approach to life that typically serves them well, but one that can occasionally produce frustration and even harm.

When it comes to health, not every path works for every person. Overcommitting to, or getting stuck on, a particular tactic blinds you to other ways to achieve the same goal. Though you pivot in business, the same strategy feels like failure in health. So, you recommit to the same tactic over and over, becoming more and more frustrated with your lack of progress.

Eventually, most people give up altogether.

Here’s what I want my patients — and all driven high-achievers out there — to know: Failing to reach your goal by one path does not equal failure overall. Most likely, you’re simply on the wrong path.

What Overcommitment Looks Like

To see what this looks like in practice, we’ll walk through two common areas of interest for health improvement.

Weight Loss

If a person’s body composition isn’t where they want it to be, they may turn to Google for ways to improve it. They then receive a tidal wave of weight-loss recommendations, from keto to paleo to low-fat to intermittent fasting, and the list goes on. After a little research, they commit to the diet that seems best to them and get started.

They see a little progress at first, but the results are slow and getting slower. Eventually, progress stops altogether. They either batten down the hatches and recommit more intensely, or they become discouraged and give up entirely.

The trouble here is that, while I’ve personally seen each of these diet plans work for people, none of them works for everyone. This discouraged individual was likely on the wrong path for them from the beginning. The lack of results had nothing to do with their level of commitment; they simply needed to change tactics until they found the one that suited their unique body and needs.

Mental Health

Anxiety and depression — the two most common mental health issues in the U.S. — both benefit from a multitude of interventions, such as medications, therapy services, meditation, and/or spiritual advisors. Each of these has vast potential to help a person manage anxiety and depression, but each person has to find the right combination for them.

If they only try one tactic, they could become discouraged if it fails and they don’t realize they should try other options.

Infographic: Pursuing a Health Goal? Don’t Be Married to the Tactic

How to Reorient Your Mindset

With the glut of health advice floating around, it can be difficult to know where to start or how to identify the most effective path toward your goal.

To save yourself from getting stuck in a painful cycle, I suggest adopting this simple rhythm:

  1. Before you choose a tactic, acknowledge that flexibility is necessary and you may need to switch paths to reach your goal.
  2. Choose your tactic, ideally with guidance from your concierge physician (more on that below).
  3. Set a definite period in which you’ll commit to your tactic so you give it a fair shot.
  4. Journal through your journey to provide yourself with a record of your actions and results.
  5. After your set window ends, pause and reassess, considering whether the tactic you chose is producing the progress you want.
  6. Change tactics if necessary.

If you find your strategy isn’t working for you, it’s time to hop off that train and try a new one. This is key to avoiding the despair and frustration that derail your pursuit altogether.

Zero in on a Better Start

Generalized healthcare recommendations are just that — general. It’s not that they don’t have value, but that they don’t know you.

Each individual is unique, with distinct experiences, backgrounds, health needs, etc. When it comes to choosing strategies to achieve a health goal, the individual approach is what produces the improvement, the results, and the return on investment people are really striving for.

The truly wonderful thing about personalized, precision medicine is that we can more deeply understand each patient’s situation — their day-to-day lifestyle, stress level, work, relationships, ambitions, and dreams.

With this knowledge, coupled with looking at their individual health metrics from blood work or other tests, we can help guide them toward the tactics that have the highest likelihood of working for them. Even if we don’t hit the perfect path right out of the gate, we have far more information to make an informed decision on where to pivot next.

In a sea of possibilities, it can be exhausting and overwhelming to hunt for the right solution. Having a concierge physician in your corner can help you choose a successful path more quickly, with less decision fatigue and frustration.

Quote: Pursuing a Health Goal? Don’t Be Married to the Tactic

Personalize Your Path

At the end of the day, every trail on the mountain reaches the top. But not for every hiker. The “right” path to the top is the path that works for you.

When aiming high, remind yourself to focus on the goal, not on the tactic you take to get there. It’s okay to look around for another route. Grit and determination are amazing characteristics that can keep you going for a long time, but if the path leads to a dead end, you still won’t reach the goal.

Incorporate flexibility from the beginning, and you’ll avoid taking a one-way train to nowhere.

Disclaimer: Content found on the Brentwood MD site is created and/or reviewed by a qualified concierge physcian. We take a lot of care to provide detailed and accurate info for our readers. The blog is only for informational purposes and isn't intended to substitute medical advice from your physician. Only your own physician is familiar with your unique situation and medical history. Please always check with your doctor for all matters about your health before you take any course of action that will affect it.