Death and Taxes 3/12

March 2012

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” said Benjamin Franklin.

While it’s easy for me to do what it takes to be healthy and avoid an untimely death, I confess, I have not yet put together my 2011 taxes. Groan.

I know for my clients and for many, many people, it’s not so easy to choose health. That is why I sing a song of joy (in my head) every time I hear that a client has turned the corner.

Let me tell you about Ann (true story, fictitious name), an ICU nurse who works shift work. Ann is married with three, busy school-age boys. Ann’s weight loss goal was 10 – 15 pounds from her five-foot frame. She was also struggling with back pain, lack of energy, poor sleep and muscle tension.

Overwhelmed by stress and looking after everyone else but self, Ann had little to no down time, or time with her spouse. She had few boundaries and felt put upon by others. Ann’s emotional state was not exactly “happy camper.” To help her cope, drinking through the week was customary.

Ann lacked confidence in her ability to follow-through or succeed in her wellness goals. When I first met her, she often said, “It’s hard because…”

In less than three hours coaching over two months time, Ann has completely turned the corner. Now she says she’s ready to continue on with ease. She is practicing assertiveness, taking time out for self and spending time with her husband. She is sleeping better, enjoying regular exercise and has reeled in the eating and drinking. Ann has more stamina and is keeping up with her kids. She is into her old jeans and has lost eight pounds so far. She is feeling good about her path, herself and her ability to continue on.

How did this happen? Ann started to think and do things differently. Her first shift was a commitment to herself. Everything else flowed out of that, one step at a time. Mostly she just started. That’s often the hardest part. When I pointed out that, despite her doubts, she’d stuck with it, do you know what she said? “It’s not so hard.”

If you have a hard job to do, here are key points to remember.
• Look at the whole, big picture and sketch a plan.
Ann’s broad success is attributable to the broad, whole-life approach versus simply calories in, calories out.

• Look for solutions versus problems; solutions are motivating, problems are draining. You don’t have to get it right the first time.

• Get support. Ann called on a coach, massage therapist, chiropractor, counselor and her husband. Who do you need?

• Acknowledge EVERY success and plan your rewards. I see my clients typically disregard their many shifts and successes while shining light on every shortcoming.

• Just start. Don’t create unnecessary anxiety about it being a big hairy thing. Take that first step, no matter how small, and the next one will follow.

The dread I feel about putting my tax paperwork together for my accountant is a wee bit like Ann’s feelings about tackling her lifestyle issues – more dread than warranted. Of course I would never minimize Ann’s challenges, which are much more complex than filing a tax return (which is pretty complicated). I’m just so happy that she is in the process of reducing her risks of an untimely death. We didn’t discuss her taxes.

To what does Ann attribute her success? “My coach held me accountable for my actions, which also made me accountable to myself.” She adds, “In my nursing profession I encourage people to quit smoking, lose weight, etc. and it feels better when you can practice what you preach.”

I have kept on top of bookkeeping through the year, so I know that once I get started, it won’t be so hard. I’m going to follow my own advice this weekend and just start.

It helps to remember that my goal has always been to pay a LOT of taxes. That would mean I’m making a LOT of money. Perspective is everything.