Keeping Your Orientation in Health and Life

This week I’ve been busy studying and prepping to view a total hip replacement surgery and what I’m learning is fascinating. Apart from the marvelous strides in medicine itself and how patients who were once destined to endure disabling injuries and illnesses can now be repaired and healed, I’m being reminded how much physical health (and the journey to get there) is similar to life’s journey. Both are filled with progression and setbacks, seasons of strength and weakness, moments to grieve and then celebrate…

Today, I’m remembering the first time I was in the OR as an observer…

Last year, I was given the opportunity to observe a shoulder surgery operation. While the entire morning was riveting, I keep recalling one specific step the surgeon performed at the outset of the procedure. Before he could begin to repair his patient’s injured shoulder, he needed to correctly identify and mark the places on her body where he would make the necessary cuts. As he carefully felt around her shoulder, I later found out he used her bony anatomy to “keep his orientation.”

Interesting phrase, and what a great parallel to everyday life.

As adults, we’re frequently sidetracked from our main purposes because we have lost our orientation. That is, we become so bombarded by overwork, busyness, and the stresses that deplete our emotional and physical reserves, that we lose sight of what’s most important. Our visual clarity becomes blurred, we grow unsure of what’s the next best step to take, and we grow so desperate for relief we end up simply living in survival mode. Said another way, when we’ve lost our primary focus, we often relegate our decision making to whatever’s easiest, closest at hand, or requires the least amount of resistance. Which, over time, can quickly become problematic on multiple levels.

In the same way a surgeon takes the necessary time to deliberately study his patient’s injuries, illnesses and weaknesses before carefully mapping out his plan to correct, so should we similarly take the needed time to plan our days, weeks, and months. Staying on task (while moving toward our main objectives) grows simpler when we routinely keep an eye balanced between today’s immediate responsibilities and tomorrow’s more flexible expectations (and we make adjustments accordingly).

Keeping Your Orientation in Three Easy Steps

Take a brief glance to the month ahead – know what’s coming, but don’t spend too much time mulling over the details.

Keep an eye on the week ahead – make it a habit to do a cursory review of the next seven days at the beginning of every week, then issue verbal/written reminders to each family member.

Pay careful attention to the following day – every night before bed make all necessary practical preparations for the smoothest possible transition into a new day.


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