Setting goals to manage your diabetes isn’t just about what you want to achieve — it’s about how you’ll do it, and when.
Set yourself up for success by making your goal SMART:
Let’s unpack each of these a little more!
Vague, general goals may sound great, but they don’t often get met. Make your goal as detailed as possible so you’re more likely to rock it. Write a full description of the goal, what you want to achieve, and what you’re going to do to get there. The more specific your description, the better chance you’ll have at reaching your goal.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What exactly do I want to achieve?
- Why do I want to reach this goal?
- How do I do it?
- With whom?
- Are there any conditions or limitations?
A loose, vague goal might sound like:
- I will lose weight.
- I will eat healthier.
- I’ll exercise more.
- I’ll manage stress better.
But a specific goal could sound like:
- I will lose 10 pounds by avoiding sugary soda and jogging for 20 minutes, 3 days a week.
- I will add a fruit to my lunch each day.
- I will try an aerobics class at my local community center at least twice.
- I will practice a guided stress-relieving meditation video this week.
This means there is a “before” and “after” that you can measure to track your progress toward your goal and when you’ve successfully achieved it. It might be a number that changes up or down depending on what success looks like, or a scale from 1 to 10, sad to happy, or high to low. Or it might be a visible, physical change.
No matter what your goal is, it means breaking it down into one or more measurable elements.
- I will weigh myself each morning to track that I’m still losing weight and getting closer to my goal of losing 10 pounds.
- I’ll use my food tracker to record my fruits at lunch each day. I’ll look back on my tracker to see if I was able to stick to my goal.
- I’ll use my calendar to check off when I go to those two aerobics classes. It will feel good to look at it and see that I reached my goal!
- I’ll make a note in my calendar each time I meditate. I’ll be able to review that calendar to prove that I stuck to my goal.
It’s OK to shoot for the stars, but your goals should be realistic for your current state of health — in your mind and your body. Your goals should be reasonable so you can meet them and feel successful. Be sure to set goals that you think you can accomplish rather than goals that will set you up for failure.
- I will focus on losing 1 pound a week for 10 weeks, until I reach my 10-pound weight loss goal. I was able to do it before, so I know I can do it again!
- I know I can add fruits to my lunch, especially my favorites like grapes and oranges. I’ll buy a bunch and have them ready when I make my lunch each morning.
- Is it realistic to go to aerobics class now that I have a broken leg? Probably not. Maybe I should stick to upper-body exercises instead.
- Am I capable of meditating, and can I realistically do it this week? It might feel a little uncomfortable since I’m new to it, but I know I can do it!
Why is this goal important to you? Will achieving it help improve your health? Make sure your goal is worthwhile so you’re more likely to stick with it.
- Losing weight will make me feel better about myself, and will help me get healthier. And losing weight slowly will make it more likely I won’t gain it all back later.
- Eating fruit each afternoon will help satisfy my cravings for sweets. That will help me stay on track with my eating plan and keep me feeling healthy.
- I’m going to this aerobics class because I want to have more energy to keep up with my kids.
- Meditation will help me relieve my stress. Giving this a try will keep me calm, help me feel better, and allow me to focus more at work.
Set a start date and deadline for each goal. Make them realistic yet flexible if you need to adjust slightly (perhaps your goal was to jog for 15 minutes but you can only do 10 minutes). With a time frame, you can visualize the finish line for your goal. Motivate yourself by noting your deadline on your phone or wall calendar or a sticky note on your fridge.
- I’ll keep losing 1 pound a week for 10 weeks. After 10 weeks, I’ll look at my progress and see if I’ve met my goal.
- Starting next Monday, I’ll add fruit to my lunch each day. I’ll shop for fruit this Sunday so I’ll be ready.
- Starting this Tuesday, I’ll go to 2 aerobics classes this week.
- Starting tonight, I’ll look up a guided meditation video online and practice it for 2 minutes to start out.
You can get healthier by getting SMART!