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Set yourself up for success




A client shared that she has 120 open charts that she needs to sign by the end of this week. Her employer has set this deadline, and there are significant consequences if she does not meet it. My client shared all sorts of feelings associated with these charts – shame that there are so many, fear about the consequences if they are not completed, dread related to doing the work of closing them.


Understandably, because shame, fear, and dread are NOT particularly motivating emotions, she’s had difficulty getting started – despite knowing about this deadline for some time.


We worked together to reframe things for her benefit.


First, I asked her to decide if she wants to close the charts. She does.

Why? Because she loves her patients and values her job. That reason was clear and powerful.


I then asked her to imagine what emotion she would find to be most beneficial (but also realistic!) while considering the open charts.


She chose “persistent”. She loves puzzles and word games and brings persistence to these activities. For her, persistence feels curious and playful.


How could she bring persistence to her charts?


I could almost see her mind start to expand with this question. She began to imagine her charts as a puzzle to be solved – 120 charts with an estimated 3 minutes needed to close each chart = 6 hours total. She quickly recognized that persistence would be difficult to maintain, so decided she’d schedule shorter blocks of time of rather than a marathon EHR session. Together, we walked through environmental factors that would support persistence – her kids would be likely to interrupt her in her home office and her persistence tends to wane after a full day, so she decided to schedule blocks of time in the morning, before clinic, at her office. She loves the feeling of accomplishment that comes from task completion, so we made a check list where she can mark off every 5 charts closed. She even picked a playlist for background music that will calm but not distract.


Nobody will ever claim that closing 120 charts (in addition to a full clinic load) is “fun”. But by committing, identifying a clear & powerful reason for that commitment, intentionally choosing an emotion, and creating an environment that supports that emotion, my client set herself up for success. I am 100% certain that she’ll get the charts closed this week.


Next time you’re facing an unpleasant task that you’ve committed to accomplish, set yourself up for success. What’s your reason for committing to the task? What emotion do you want to bring? How can you shape your environment to support that emotion?


I’d love to hear how you put this into practice – let me know!

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