Master Your Goals
Small changes can bring about big results as you manage your condition.
By Jennifer Mitchell, Editor
Being diagnosed with diabetes can be overwhelming news. But setting realistic goals now can help you get through the trying times later.
And that can help you stay on track for the long haul and avoid potential health complications like kidney disease, blindness or other problems.
You’ll work with your diabetes care team to set goals tailored to you and develop an overall plan for managing your condition.
Some goals will be short-term targets that you can reach more quickly. Other goals will be broader, longer-range targets aimed at helping you manage your diabetes over time. Remember, you don’t have to change all your habits at once.
Check in with your care team regularly, talk about your progress (or obstacles) and adjust your goals as necessary. As you master each step, you can set new goals. Over time, those small victories will add up!
Here’s one approach to setting short-term and long-term goals. It’s called the SMART approach:
S – Specific. Identify exactly what you want to do.
Example: A long-term specific goal may be to lose weight or keep your blood sugar in your target range so you can better control diabetes. A short-term specific goal may be to get physical activity three days a week, or to plan your meals for the upcoming week.
M – Measurable. Have a time frame. When will you get started? How will you track your progress?
Example: If you want to get physical activity three days a week, you may start tomorrow by taking 10-minute walks after work.
A – Attainable. Set a realistic goal. Is the goal something you have the resources for and time to achieve? Is it something that your doctor approves? Speak with your care team to be sure your goals are appropriate for you.
Example: After work, you may go for a short walk at the office, at home or even at the kids’ soccer practices.
R – Relevant. Does this goal fit into your long-term plan?
Example: You would like to lose weight and control your blood sugar. Physical activity burns calories and may help you lose weight. Exercise also helps lower blood glucose levels and may lead to better control of diabetes.
T – Time-based. Have a time frame that helps you stay on track. Set a time, day or date that you will get started and a deadline for checking in on your progress.
Example: You will go for a short walk at home tomorrow. In two weeks, you’ll check on your progress to make sure you’re still on track.
By taking on a small goal — such as getting physical activity three days a week — you can easily track if you are walking daily. Exercising more may lead to losing weight over time, which may help you get your blood glucose level in your target range.
Remember, setting goals can help you manage diabetes well. Small changes can lead to big results. Get started setting the right goals for you and see what you can achieve!
American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes–2015. Diabetes Care: 2015:38:S1-S93. Accessed: September 17, 2015.
National Diabetes Education Program. Take small steps to prevent diabetes. Accessed: September 17, 2015.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Define your goals. Accessed: September 17, 2015.
Last Updated: September 21, 2015