It is a unique space in the world of health when our goal is to improve the quality of life outcomes, and yet we measure everything quantitatively. This quantitive measurement will keep increasing in its size and complexity over the coming years. Improvements in wearable tech – shirts that will be able to measure heart rate variability, steps per day, blood pressure, glucose, the sky is the limit! While that data is excellent for scientists with graphs and lines of best fit, predicting health trends and future health burdens. I do question its use at an individual level. The individual is still accessing the same data at a micro-level (by themselves, daily) and making up their own stories.
As health professionals, we are positioned uniquely to see this data and its interpretation allows us to create a moment. To provide the individual with the lens through which they view that information. Currently, that individual is turning to social media for that interpretation and seeking validation while doing so.
However, what they’re getting is comparison, not validation. No matter what numbers you’re producing, someone is always creating better ones. With status associated with likes and shares now, we are competing in a game that no-one inevitably wins. So we lose sight of our line of best fit, fish stop swimming and hurt themselves trying to run and never swim the same again. If analysis via ‘comparison to others’ is our mode of operation, all we do is create a body of evidence for the ‘I’m not good enough’ story. It’s never enough! The likes, the resting heart rate or average km time, there is always someone out there that has a better number, and it’s killing the best in you!
The opportunity we have at the individual level is to create moments for changes of perspective. To change the narrative of ‘im not good enough’ or seeking validation to disprove the “I’m not good enough story”, to an informed perspective. A perspective on what the numbers mean and how they can serve us and our purpose, not prevent us from improving our quality of life. We don’t need our clinicians and mentors knowing more about numbers; we need them ready and able to have conversations about value!
Here is a quick Q&A:
How much do the numbers you worry about really contribute to the quality of your life?
Are you currently on your line of best fit? Why/ Why not?
Who do you need around you to help give you the perspective you need to get to that line of best fit?
Thanks for reading.
Ps. If you’re still a little lost on what a line of best fit is, it’s a line that scientists draw on a scatter plot. This youtube clip explains it well. Warning: you may fall asleep while you watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InDf8RBa8eA