Setting Goals to Control Your Diabetes
Setting goals is one of the most important tools you have for managing your diabetes. After all, if you never set a goal you’ll never reach it.
However, it’s important to set realistic goals. If you set goals you can't reach, you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s also important to be specific. Rather than saying, “I will eat healthier,” you might say, “I’m going to eat one more serving of vegetables each day.” This is realistic and specific, and once you’ve reached this goal you can set another. “Eating healthy” is a fine goal to have, but to get there you may need to set many small goals.
Several small goals can produce big results
Goal setting is a process. You may start with a final end result in mind—“I will lose 10 pounds,” for example. Once you have that final goal in mind, think about what steps you need to take in order to get there. Do you need to add exercise to your day? Eat smaller portions? Eat more home-prepared meals? Drink more water? Once you’ve broken the final goal down into smaller parts, you can begin to prioritize them. In the example above, you might decide that the first step is to reduce your portion size.
Sometimes the steps need to be broken down even smaller and you may need to challenge your own thinking. For example, if one of your goals is to eat more home-prepared meals, you might ask yourself what’s standing in your way. Do you need to brush up on your cooking skills? Do you need help planning menus? Are you simply short on time? Questions like this can help you not only set your goals but reach them.
You can set many different types of goals
Although everyone is different, there are some common issues that many people with diabetes struggle with. These include:
- Glucose control – Of course this is the ultimate goal of diabetes management. Achieving good control may involve goals in several other areas like monitoring your blood sugar, adding more exercise and managing your weight.
- Blood pressure – Reaching your ideal blood pressure may also involve several steps, like taking medication or reducing your stress levels.
- Weight – Having a goal of simply “losing weight” is much too broad. Looking at smaller, more specific steps you can take makes you a lot more likely to succeed.
- Exercise – Simply saying, “I will exercise more” isn’t enough. Set some specific goals, such as “I will walk 30 minutes every day.”
- Cholesterol levels – Managing your cholesterol may mean setting goals to change your diet, add exercise, or take your medication as prescribed.
- Taking your medication – It’s easy to forget to take your medication. But for people with diabetes, it’s a cornerstone of good glucose control. Setting goals can help.
- Refilling prescriptions on time – It’s hard to take your medication if you don’t have it. Make refilling your prescriptions on time a priority.
Discussing your goals with all members of your diabetes care team can be very helpful. They can help you to prioritize, keep on track, and be your biggest cheerleading section when you succeed. Reviewing your goals regularly with your care team can let you know what’s working and what’s not, and can help you find solutions when your goals are harder to reach than you expected.
Staying healthy while living with diabetes can be tough. Sometimes it may all seem overwhelming, but setting goals can keep you on the right path and can take a lot of the stress out of your diabetes care.