Believe it or not, we are almost a week into 2020 and if statistics are anything to go by, all the well-meant New Year’s Resolutions are starting to nestle themselves at the back of your mind. So, dust them off, arm yourself with a plan, and breathe some life back into your resolutions with this SMART goal setting technique.
SMART goal setting is a useful method which encourages you to consider your goal carefully. Is it Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely? These five factors can keep your goals in reach.
Specific – if your goal is too vague it can be harder to stay focused in the long-term. Consider these questions to be create a more specific goal:
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Who/what do you need to achieve this goal?
- Why do you want to achieve this?
Consider these two options: “I want to look great this summer,” and “I want to change the way I eat to lose 3kg of weight.”
The first of these options is a vague wish, while the second is specific enough that it is likely already making you think of the precise steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goal.
Measurable – to know when you achieve your goal, you must have a way of monitoring your progress. Think about your goal and ask yourself:
- How can I measure my progress?
- How will I know when I have succeeded?
A simple way to measure lifestyle progress in type 2 diabetes is with HbA1c. Setting a target HbA1c for your next test is a good way to keep your eye on the prize and know what you are aiming for. If you don’t have your HbA1c measured, you could consider a specific weight target, or an achievement such as “I want to walk over 10,000 steps per day.”
Actionable – Setting a goal usually entails changing your behaviour. It is helpful to think of the practical action points to associate with this change. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, choosing a healthy meal plan to follow is an action that you can focus on and follow. If you are looking to increase your daily steps, you could choose something like going for a walk during your lunch break.
Realistic – It’s okay to dream big, but ask yourself honestly, is it realistic? It’s unlikely you will headline at Glastonbury this year if ‘happy birthday’ is the most you’ve ever sang. You are more likely to stay motivated if you know your goal is within touching distance. This is one of the biggest hurdles that people fail to overcome during the high of January’s ‘new year, new me,” ethos. Keep things realistic! And, if you achieve your realistic goal, you can always set a new one!
Timely – When do you want to achieve your goal by? Again, be realistic with your time frame; some goals can be achieved relatively quickly, whereas others need longer. It can be helpful to set mini-deadlines building up to the main goal – this way you can track your progress and celebrate all the small successes too!
If you already have a New Year’s Resolution lined-up, consider how you could apply the pointers from the SMART goal technique above to stay on track for success. Or, if you’ve been too busy recuperating from the festivities to give much thought to your goals, then check out the suggestions below.
Make a commitment to your health:
- Check in with your doctor or diabetes nurse if it’s been a while. This is a good way to reassess where your health is at, find out your HbA1c and establish a plan going forwards. If you want to lower your HbA1c this year watch 7 ways to keep your HbA1c at 7% to get some useful tips.
- During Christmas your routine for testing your blood sugar may have been disrupted. Try setting daily reminders to get back in the habit of checking regularly.
- Individuals with insulin-dependent diabetes might want to use the new year as a chance to check they are prepared and equipped to manage hypoglycemia. If you keep a hypo kit, whether it’s at home, school, work or in the car, take a moment to check it is fully stocked and ready for any episodes of hypoglycemia. Or if you want to refresh your knowledge on the topic, the free Hypo Program is a useful place to learn more.
Be mindful of your diet: As mentioned above, resolutions to adopt healthy food habits are popular in the new year, this might be to lose weight or simply improve health. Reducing the intake of highly-processed food, curbing mindless-snacking or trying to increase the amount of water you drink might be one of the diet-related habits you are hoping to achieve – the food, nutrition and recipes section of the Diabetes Forum is a great place to find others looking to make changes too.
Get active: People with diabetes are encouraged to exercise to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and to achieve better blood sugar control. The World Health Organisation recommends adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, five days a week, or a vigorous 75-minute spell of activity during the week – walking groups, swimming or even gardening are a great way to start increasing your activity levels gradually. If it’s an activity you have been too nervous to try before, now is the perfect time to conquer this fear – there will probably be other beginners starting too!
Focus on mental well-being: Give your mental health a bit of well-deserved TLC this year try incorporating one the following actions into your day.
- Set aside a few minutes each day for meditation or mindfulness. The practice can help you to relax and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety – there are plenty of guided meditations and resources available online to help you get started.
- Write down one thing at the end of each day that made you smile – it’s a simple way to go to bed on a positive note.
- Take a moment to thank your body. For anyone living with a health condition there can be moments of frustration that your body may not be functioning as other people’s do. Instead of focusing on things your body might not be able to do, acknowledge one thing each day your body did which you are grateful for.