This one is a follow-up to my recent blogs about Noticing and Explaining. This one is about step three: Prescribing. Remember the framework:
Giving all credit where it’s due, I did not come up with this framework. This comes from OPEX Fitness and I have been using it for several years. It makes sense. It works. It’s worth thinking about and applying in your life.
Basically, we are doing NEPA all the time, thousands of times a day. Picture this: You’re walking down the sidewalk. Out of the corner of your eye you notice something sticky and nasty-looking on the sidewalk ahead of you. Without much conscious thought, your brain processes the shape and color and explains it as un-scooped doggie droppings. Your next subconscious thought is to prescribe a slight change in trajectory and gait to walk around it rather than stepping in it. Now you take action by shifting your weight and steering around it. That’s NEPA in action. You didn’t step in it. Now, that’s a new noticing and the NEPA cycle repeats.
It’s really just an analysis of how we process external stimuli from our world and turn it into our own actions. It’s valuable because it can help us understand our own behaviors, build better habits, and make better choices. It’s not always dog poop. Sometimes it’s a lack of vegetables on your plate, or a certain expression on your spouse’s face. Learning how to notice, explain, prescribe, and take action will help you address all these situations in a more mindful and effective manner.
Step 3 = Prescribing
When you get to step 3, you’ve already brought the thing to your attention and done some investigation to figure out what and why it is. Now you’re coming up with a plan to address it. This is where you bring all your knowledge and experiences to bear.
For a health & fitness coach like me, this means drawing on all my personal experience with sports, exercise, training, recovery, rehab, diets, food sourcing, meal planning, cooking, eating, health investigation, sleeping, healing, relationships, stress reduction, schedule management, and everything else that informs the work I do with my clients. It also means drawing on all my education, from autodidactic obsessions to college courses and my university degree, as well as coaching certificates and nutrition training certificates. Also, it means drawing on my knowledge of the individual: their history, goals, priorities, and personality. I draw on all of this knowledge and experience to make a prescription for them that I hope is the best.
When you’re tackling problems in your own life, you’ll do the same. The key is not to think of the problem too narrowly. Just because you might not have any direct experience with the topic at hand, doesn’t mean the experience and knowledge you do have won’t serve you. Many things in life share similar patterns with other things, have corollaries or analogs, or are basically scaled-up or scaled-down versions of other systems.
As Miyamoto Musashi said,
“If you know the way broadly, you will see it in all things.”
Prescribing is the act of devising a solution or course of action. This is where you create strategy (big picture thinking). This is where you come up with a plan.
From the smallest-scale problem to the largest, prescribing is a critical step. If the prescription is aligned with a correct understanding (explanation), then we can only hope it leads to correct action. Testing that hypothesis is the next step.
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