News and insights brought to you by the International Diabetes Federation

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Have you made your 2020 New Year’s resolutions?

To begin, it may be beneficial to consider just how much routine and discipline already play a major role in your life. So first off, give yourself a pat on the back and recognize your strengths. It may help to thank all the people in your life who are helping to support you. Dr Jason Baker, an endocrinologist who lives with type 1, understands managing diabetes from two perspectives. “People need to remember they are not alone in the struggle–that there is a community behind them.” And as for setting unrealistic goals, he says. “It’s important not to try for perfection; instead be a realist who learns from mistakes and fights to make tomorrow better.”

It can be overwhelming to choose just one thing or decide how to proceed when making resolutions. Some behaviouralists suggest writing down a few lines about what’s in the way of your goals and digging deep. The question for anyone living with diabetes may be: my condition already takes up so much of my time – how do I begin to achieve more of what I want without increasing my stress?

``It’s important not to try for perfection; instead be a realist who learns from mistakes and fights to make tomorrow better.”

Getting SMART

SMART goal setting brings structure and trackability into individual objectives. Developed in 1981, it was traditionally used for business performance and project management.  Today, SMART criteria are widely used for personal development in a very broad sense.

The acronym SMART stands for:

Specific (target a specific area for improvement)

Measurable (quantify your progress)

Achievable (make it realistic)

Relevant (should be related to internal, meaningful goals)

Time-bound (set perimeters to achieve)

For example, if I want to improve my overall insulin uptake and cardio fitness (specific area), I could decide to bike to work three times per week (quantify) because my workplace location is only 4 miles away (achievable). I’d like to bicycle more and dream of joining a bike-a-thon (relevant).  I will assess my progress bi-weekly and after 3-months, assess my performance (time-bound).

A more diabetes-care specific goal could be to decrease the number of blood glucose (BG) highs I have after I eat lunch (specific area), because the highs after lunch affect my afternoon productivity (relevant).  I might want to share this with my doctor to get more support.  In order to do this, I will calculate my meal-time bolus more often before I eat and look to eating lower carbohydrate foods. I will keep a record on my smartphone of foods eaten and record outcomes with a 2-hour BG result (measurable) where I can easily type in numbers (achievable). After one month, I will assess my progress and see how I have done (time-bound).  With insight, I’ll keep going.

Carolyn Robertson, a Certified Diabetes Educator in Los Angeles and New York and a long-time contributor to Diabetes Voice, supports use of the SMART system.  “It’s much more useful to think about making small changes than big changes and making the changes measurable. Often people set unrealistic goals that just can’t be achieved. For example, targeting blood glucose that is within 70-150 mg/dL (3.8-8.3 mmol/L) 90% of the time, is unrealistic based on the limitations of insulin therapy, not based on the performance of the individual.”

Keep going!

Keeping resolutions isn’t easy; it is reported that 50% of all resolutions are unsuccessful.  One pathway to success is to celebrate small achievements. Slipping is to be expected so don’t beat yourself up!  It’s better to falter for a week or a month than to give up altogether.


Elizabeth Snouffer is Editor of Diabetes Voice.

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