What’s your PIP? – The “Your Name Here” Improvement Plan

What's your PIP? - The "Your Name Here" Improvement Plan - Health, Wellness, Fitness and Exercise.

A patient came into the clinic and plopped on the table with a big “huff.”

“Doc, I have a new plan.”

“That sounds fabulous.” (I didn’t know there was an old plan.)

“Yep. I have a new improvement plan, and it is called the ‘LIP.’”

Interesting. “What exactly is a LIP?”

“It’s a plan that I need your help with. It’s the “LISA IMPROVEMENT PLAN.”

(Conveniently, her name was Lisa.)

“Well, that sounds very interesting, Lisa. What is this plan all about?”

What’s your PIP? – The “Your Name Here” Improvement Plan


Lisa, went on to explain that she had spent the last two decades caring for her children and investing no time in herself. She had gained weight and suffered some joint issues from the fact her body was slowly deconditioning from lack of exercise. Her self-esteem was in the toilet, and she lacked energy and drive. She had stopped pursuing her passions like painting and writing. She had stuck “Lisa” on the shelf while everyone else around her got cared for.

Sound familiar?

A while ago my husband shared some corporate lingo. I love lingo! He said that sometimes an employee needs to be put on a “PIP.”

What is a “PIP?”  

“A ‘PIP’  is a Performance Improvement Plan.”

Well, that sounds great, I thought.

“Not really,” he said.

“A ‘PIP’  is a last ditch effort to get somebody better aligned with the duties and responsibilities of their job. It is just a greased slide to the exit sign clutching a pink slip in your hand. Once you are on a PIP, it is pretty hard to turn back.”

But it got me thinking. What if a “PIP,” outside the corporate setting, could be a good thing? Maybe it could be a chance to project manage your own life? A PERSONAL Improvement Plan, if you will.

I considered this concept when Lisa told me her plan. Lisa wanted to  put herself on a “LIP.” She was, in fact, putting herself on a PERSONAL Improvement Plan. She was acknowledging the issues with her current life performance and was willing to take action. 

She was making her health and wellness the project, and herself the project manager.

James Chestnut is a mentor of mine. I took a Certified Chiropractic Wellness Practitioner program from him, and I remember during one lecture he said. “Tonight, I want you to take off all your clothes and stand in the mirror.”

(Cumulative audience squirm)

“Take a really good look. Look at everything from top to bottom.”

He let that visual happen.

“Now I want you to say the following out loud while looking in the mirror. If I do nothing, this will be the best I am ever going to look and feel.”

 “If I do nothing, this is the best I am ever going to look and feel.”

(Wow. Let that one sink in.)

That moment in the lecture left a deep impression on me. I went forward pursuing action in the areas of my life I wanted to be exceptional in my later years. I realized, through Dr. Chestnut’s somewhat horrifying visual, that if we do nothing today to invest, “change” will be one day harder tomorrow. But that change does not happen in a vacuum.




Back to Lisa, sitting on my table. She was ready. She was prepared to start making life changes and she realized she was going to need resources. She was going to gather people who knew more about how to get to the goal than she did. She came in armed and not willing to take no for an answer.

That week Lisa, her naturopath, physical therapist and I put a “LIP” together WITH her. It involved nutritional shifts, movement increases, supplements, and some healthier self-care habits that she had been neglecting. It involved accountability check-ins with her team and a long-term approach, not a quick fix.

Healthy choices and changes can be overwhelming. That “Stand in the mirror” moment can be sobering. And when the “changespiration” does hit there is so much information out there (much of it conflicting) it is hard to know where to start. So even if you get to the point of wanting to create your “Insert Your Name Here” Improvement Plan what is the first step?

[Tweet “She was making her health and wellness the project, and herself the project manager.”]

Creating your own “Insert Name Here” IMPROVEMENT PLAN


  • Decide to change – I know this seems so “Captain Obvious” but I cannot tell you how many clients and patients I have talked to that don’t actually want to change. You don’t have to change because of your wife, friend or mother says you should. You don’t have to loose weight, eat better or meditate more because others tell you you should. If you decide to undergo the “Insert Name Here” Improvement Plan it should be because you have a deep desire to do so.
  • Decide WHY you want to change – Simon Sinek will tell you that you better know your “WHY” for any successful project. If you do not have a clear list to come back to when the going gets hard the project will derail. Oh, and tip – Don’t make your change about impressing “him” or getting back at “her”. Don’t make it about a bikini or a pair of jeans. Don’t make it about punishment. Your WHY should be about growth, loving yourself, longevity and helping others. See this article for more.
  • Rally a team – This might be the most important part. Select a team of 1-3 ringers. Maybe it is an online coach or a personal trainer at your gym. Their credentials should support that they need know more than you on a particular aspect of your improvement plan; they also need to be available and willing. Your team should know that they are committing to six months and, in addition, you need to give them permission to speak hard truth.
  • Enforce Accountability – Accountability means there are stop gaps in place to challenge you to stay the course. It can be a person or a thing. Meaning, your personal trainer might commit to texting you Mondays to make sure you go for your run or you might sign up for a 5K in two months. The registration printout for that 5K will act as internal accountability. There is also a Facebook groups or accountability APPs or your best buddy who you pay five bucks ever time you miss an objective.
  • Focus on the long term – Illuminate, ignore and banish your attachment to immediate results. This “Insert Your Name Here” Improvement Plan is for the long haul. Long-term goals create long-term change. No quick fixes here.
  • Know there will be stumbles, trips, and falls – I wrote an article once about the “DIF.” It talked about understanding your injury healing process. It applies to a “PIP” as well. The idea is we don’t look at change or no change, we look at degrees of change. We observe the duration, intensity, and frequency (DIF) of a habit we are trying to change and note if we see improvements overall. So when we stumble and fall it is not failure, it’s feedback. Do we stumble less with less duration (miss one workout instead of three in a row), less intensity (dabble instead of binge), and less often (sugar once a week instead of seven days a week)? If any of these are improving, then we are still moving forward.

Lisa embarked on a consistent plan focusing on her WHY and supported by the experts around her. She embraced hard truth accountability and looked at results six months out not two weeks. Are you ready for a “PIP”? If you would like some assistance in putting one together click the link below. I am happy to help.



This week think about any changes you would like to make pertaining to your personal health and wellbeing. Can you select one to implement over the next six weeks? Who do you need to ask for help? What do you need to eliminate from your life so you can experience quicker success?



Here is a link to Simon Senek’s, “Discover Your Why” Course




2 Responses

  1. I feel like you wrote this article specifically to me. Thank you for your continued encouragement and support!

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About Dr. Denniston

Dr. Denniston is a wellness strategist for elite leaders and their teams, bridging the connection between personal well-being and professional success. She provides custom solutions for burnout and stress and facilitates cohesive habit-training strategies that maximize vitality, productivity, and resilience.

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