Process Over Outcomes for Personal Wellbeing

For many years quality measures in healthcare were mostly focused on processes. Are providers following the desired process? If so, we assumed all was well, that “quality” was high. Only that turned out not to be true. Oftentimes, although the process was followed, actual outcomes were uneven, mediocre or even poor, as many critics of healthcare were quick to point out. To patients, outcomes matter most.

Now everyone in healthcare “gets it.” It’s all about outcomes. We’ve got to be more focused on the end results. How good are we at this or that treatment? Really? How do we get better? What’s it going to take to get the outcomes we want? How fast can we do it? This shift in focus from processes to outcomes is an important step in improving healthcare delivery and the health of the patients we serve.

I’m not so sure that carries through to our personal health improvement journeys. I think it’s easy for us to get too caught up in outcomes measures, for example body weight or fitness level, and a desire to see results quickly. An individual might lose weight rapidly, but his diet is not healthy or sustainable. Or someone fails to lose weight over a few months and she becomes discouraged, giving up on a potentially good method too soon.

Perhaps we’ve been too focused on getting healthy in order to be well, when, in fact, it’s only when we become well that we can be healthy. Our Christian wellness program is a combination of discipleship plus sanctification, these being our part and God’s part in the process respectively. And no matter how hard we work at discipleship, sanctification and its ultimate outcomes are under God’s timing. Sure we can resist the Holy Spirit and impede our progress, but there seems to be no speeding it up.

It’s this internal change that matters most. A reader of this blog approached me in church to tell me a little of her personal health story. She has struggled with weight issues for decades, but recently experienced an inner change of motivation. Previously watching her weight for vanity or approval from others, she now found herself wanting to eat better and lose weight just for herself, just to be more healthy. Seemingly all of a sudden, healthy habits were coming more easily and the pounds began to drop off. Why now? What happened? Grace, and sanctification, I think.

So I encourage you to just keep at it. Work the process. Appreciate any positive outcomes but don’t get upset if it’s two steps forward and one step back. Do the work and try not to be the cause of the slowness yourself, but realize that slow progress seems to be the rule.