I am a physical therapist and that means that my ability to get results and improvement for my patients is heavily reliant on their motivation. If the patients are not motivated to do the work, then they are not likely to get better. Usually by the time they come to my office, they are somewhat motivated because they have taken that initial step of making an appointment.
Often times, when the patient finds out the amount of time and effort it will take to get better, his or her motivation can start to wane. Because of this, we start PT sessions with goal setting. If the patient and the PT have an understanding about what the goals are then motivation is easier to maintain. To think about this in a more practical way, think of weight loss.
Many people lose weight, but typically those that stick with it have a goal or goals in mind; looking good on the beach, or lowering their blood pressure, for example. Without that goal for motivation, it becomes very easy to fall off the wagon.
Goal setting with patients that have pain can be done in the same way as weight loss. If the patient believes that 1) the PT knows how to help them, and 2) they have a goal, then keeping them motivated is a much less daunting task.
Goal setting is not anything new and we have been doing it in PT for a long time, but we do need to change the way we are going about setting these goals. Goals need to be achievable and they need to directly effect the life of the person setting the goal. This means that time should be spent really looking inside oneself to determine what one really wants to accomplish. The more meaningful the goal, the more likely someone is to stay on the path to accomplishing it.
When thinking about setting goals, make sure you set some short term and long term goals. Victories keep the motivation going, and short term goals can supply those much needed wins. Turn those small wins into bigger wins and you’ll achieve your long term goals.
My advice is to determine where you may be falling short and set some milestones that will help raise your level. Goal setting will quickly improve your motivation and when you achieve your goals it will be a huge boost to your self-esteem and get you motivated to continue setting goals.
John Oxley PT,
DPT, OCS, CSCS, Cert. MDT
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