Managing Diabetes Magazine - diabetes
Setting and Achieving Health Goals
How to reach them
By setting goals, you can accomplish almost anything you want to do. Learning how to set and achieve goals is an important part of managing any chronic disease. If you have such a disease, you likely spend an average of 12 hours each year with health care professionals. During the other 364½ days, you must take care of yourself. Choices you make each day have a big impact on controlling conditions such as diabetes.
Self-managing your condition means paying attention to your lifestyle. Only you can make decisions on what to eat, how to exercise, and whether or not to monitor symptoms or take medication. Setting and achieving health-related goals helps you take control of your diabetes.
Perhaps you repeatedly decide that you are going to lose 20 pounds, eat a healthier diet, exercise more, and measure your blood glucose more often. Yet months later, you find you made no progress, or stopped when you came up against obstacles.
Setting and achieving goals
A goal must be important to you. When you think about what you want to accomplish, list all of the reasons for doing it. Picture yourself accomplishing your goal. Write down your reasons so you can read them daily. Your goals should depend on your own performance, not the actions of others.
Break big goals down into mini goals that can be accomplished in a short time frame. For instance, rather than planning to lose 20 pounds, make losing half a pound your goal for this week. Next, figure out the steps you must take to accomplish it.
Make Your Goals SMART
- Specific: What are you going to do, why and how?
- Measurable: Ask yourself how you will know you are making progress. You must be able to measure it to manage it.
- Achievable: You will find ways to meet goals that are important to you.
Not only must you stretch yourself, you must believe you can do it.
- Realistic: While the goal does not have to be easy, it must be one you are capable of reaching.
- Timely: Set a time frame for accomplishing your goal. A deadline gives you a target. Without a time frame, there will be no sense of urgency spurring you to start taking action.
Steps for successful goal setting
- Decide exactly what you want to accomplish. Be as specific as possible. Instead of ‘I want to lose weight,’ say ‘I will lose 10 pounds by October 1 by eating more vegetables, less fat and starch, and exercising for 30 minutes five days each week.’
- List the reasons you want to accomplish this goal. Decide the importance of accomplishing this goal on a scale of one to 10 (one being least and 10 most important). If your goal scores less than seven in importance, adjust it or your list of reasons until it rates seven or above.
- Break your goal into smaller mini goals, listing all possible steps or actions you could take towards your goal. For instance, you might break your goal into one-pound steps, list changes you will make in your diet, or decide how you will increase your walking speed and distance each day. You can make separate goals for diet and exercise.
- Choose one step or action plan as your mini goal. Be specific. Decide how, when and where you will complete this action plan. For instance, “For the next seven days I will walk 30 minutes every day at 5:00 p.m. by walking from home to the store on the corner of Elm and Brown Street.”
- Now, think about any possible obstacles that might stop you from carrying out your action plan.
If your goal is to walk 30 minutes every day at 5:00 p.m., what will you do if the phone rings, if it starts to rain, if a friend comes by? If you already have planned out what to do to get past any possible obstacles, you are more likely to get it done.
- Write down what you have decided to do, how you are going to do it, what you will do to overcome any obstacles, and the date when you will complete this action plan. Putting your goals in writing and reviewing them daily will help you accomplish them.
- Ask yourself, on a scale of one to 10, how confident you are that you will carry out your action plan. Again, if you score less than seven out of 10, change your action plan until you feel certain.
- Put your action plan and mini goals into effect for one week. Congratulate yourself on any positive progress you have made towards your goal. Think about what worked for you and what did not. Change what did not work, build on what did, and create an action plan to meet the next goal.
Use this process to take weekly steps towards your overall goals. Rating your mini goals by importance and confidence helps keep them achievable and successful. Always congratulate yourself on any progress you make, and build on your success. It may seem like a small goal to lose half a pound, but it is an achievable goal. By losing half a pound each week, you will lose 26 pounds in a year.
You can apply these goal-setting principles to anything you want to achieve, be it saving money or achieving better control of your diabetes. Today is an excellent time to start making progress towards your goals and better health.
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. © Copyright 2015, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 2S6 [DI_MDa09]