One of the mainstays of our consultations here at Diabetes Insight is finding ways to overcome the daily challenges of living with diabetes, problem solving and setting goals. To set goals we use the SMART goal approach which is widely used and recognized worldwide.
SMART is a acronym giving criteria to guide a specific set of objectives. The letters stand for the following:
- Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
- Assignable – specify who will do it.
- Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
- Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
At Diabetes Insight we use a SMART goal worksheet to set out goals, obstacles, supports needed to be in place and rewards. Without including these within the goals, most people will not maintain their goals going forward.
How Can SMART Goals Help in Diabetes Self Management?
According to research people with diabetes spend on average 3 hours a year with a health care professional. Therefore the majority of the time, people with diabetes are self-managing their condition 365 days a year. But are you given the adequate tools, supports and resources to achieve optimal management to the best of your abilities?
We often refer to Diabetes Burnout here at Diabetes Insight and how living day to day with a chronic condition can be overwhelming and challenging. By using and setting SMART goals to help manage your diabetes, it helps you to know with every goal you set and achieve, your confidence and motivation increases to be as healthy as you can possibly be. This is most helpful when you can’t see the wood for the trees when faced with obstacles.
SMART goals can be applied to any aspect of your diabetes. Whether it is weight loss, reduce your HbA1c, wanting to test more….whatever goal you set. You may want to set multiple small goals, but whenever you set a goal, the main reason that they fail is because they are unrealistic.
For example lets take weight loss. You need to lose weight and you want to lose weight. So you decide you are going to lose two stone, you are going to start on Monday and have your last hurrah on Sunday, stuffing your face with bottles of wine, chocolate and crisps. Already you are starting the week on a negative balance sheet.
SMART goals don’t wait for Monday, they can be applied at any day of the week, at any time. Research shows that most diets start on a Monday are doomed to fail. By applying the SMART goal principle, you make losing weight that little bit more manageable, realistic and simpler.
So lets recap, you decide you need and want to lose two stone.
Specific – To lose two stone
Measurable– Are you going to measure your progress by weighing yourself weekly or by how loose your clothes feel
Assignable- You are going to achieve this, but list what supports you may need to have in place i.e family, friends etc
Realistic- Looking at your life right now, is a two stone weight loss achievable? Maybe a stone or half stone might be more realistic and review your SMART goals with every half stone you lose. Or another good plan is to rephrase your goal statement of ‘to lose two stone’ by changing it to ‘I am going to lose two pounds a week over 6 weeks’
Time Related- You must set yourself a deadline. If you know losing two stone in 2 months is unrealistic, change it to two stone in 6 months.
In order for any set of SMART goals to be specific you must determine what obstacles you could possibly encounter and set a plan as to how you are going to overcome them. This could be exercising with a friend to overcome boredom, walking on a flat surface to avoid the pains that occur in your knees when going up a hill.
Look at previous attempts of where your goal may have failed. Look at why, and set out a plan to overcome this.
One of the main reasons why most people with diabetes get despondent at diabetes clinics, GP visits etc, is that, no matter how small the success, it is failed to be recognized. A person fills out their blood glucose diary perfectly after being ‘scolded’ at their last visit, only for this not to be acknowledged, but the out of range blood glucose levels were.
No one will feel motivated or confident to stick to their goals, if their progress and success is not awarded or acknowledged. So you must reward your progress. That might be saving 10 euros for every 1 pound of weight lost, and going on a holiday when your goal is achieved. It might be buying that pair of jeans you always wanted, or going for a manicure. Rewarding your success is an acknowledgement to yourself, motivates you and guarantees success going forward.
No matter how small a success a person achieves at Diabetes Insight, we always celebrate it and are proud of all our clients. If you feel there is nothing to celebrate, we will find something, but no one will be judged, scolded or reprimanded for not ‘achieving’ or ‘complying’.
Free Worksheet Download
To use a SMART goal worksheet please click on the following SMART Goal Worksheet PDF to download and print. You can use multiple worksheets to target several goals over a period of time, or set a goal for a week, review it and make out another sheet.