By Nicole Bereolos, PhD, MPH, CDE
We’re a few weeks into 2020 and that means a majority of your clients who have a New Year’s resolution are not succeeding as planned. Eating better, going to the gym and quitting smoking/vaping are by far the most popular goals on January 1, but that doesn’t mean they are the best choices and are often quickly abandoned at the first hints of struggle. However, all is not lost!
This is an excellent time to work with your clients to get back on track and rethink goals, to create those that work for their lifestyle. As diabetes care and education specialists, we are in the perfect position to partner with anyone who has diabetes, prediabetes or other cardiometabolic conditions to understand goal setting and work through these barriers.
Brainstorming about perceived barriers to achieving a goal and using solution focused methods help to keep the issue in the “here and now.” It acknowledges that behavior change is not a simple process.
Here are 5 tips you can use with your clients to make sure goals are realistic and attainable:
- Promote individualistic and meaningful goals
Ideally, an individual will identify the goal to work towards. By doing this, it provides a sense of control. It may not be the goal that you, the diabetes care and education specialist, may have chosen, but it is likely still positive. By being successful in a goal of their choosing, they are more likely to attempt other goals under your guidance.
- Use small goals
Break the goal down into manageable parts. For example, if someone wants to lose 50 pounds, that can seem intimidating, but losing 10 pounds is more realistic. By reaching this smaller goal, it can increase one’s self-efficacy that they can continue and work on losing the next 10 pounds.
- Remember #LanguageMatters
The words that we use matter. Use words that are empowering rather than punishing, victimizing or blaming. With regards to meeting goals, using words of encouragement for even small successes can help individuals increase hope and self-efficacy. We should be champions for people with diabetes and being mindful of the spoken word helps to bring us closer to that goal.
- Acknowledge barriers
Incorporating behavioral health is a tool that we use to optimize outcomes. Although behavioral health is complex, attempting to address barriers of behavior change it at its core. Brainstorming about perceived barriers to achieving a goal and using solution focused methods help to keep the issue in the “here and now.” It acknowledges that behavior change is not a simple process.
- Promote change as a process
Don't look at change as a "one-and-done" event. Some of us may be able to change behavior but are we able to sustain it over time? We must consider steps in behavior change that can be implemented at different stages of life. We have to think about behavior change as an ever-moving target that requires dedication and, perhaps, some creativity.
For additional free resources to help your clients manage diabetes, prediabetes or cardiometabolic conditions, visit DiabetesEducator.org/ToolsAndResources.
AADE Perspectives on Diabetes Care
The American Association of Diabetes Educators Perspectives on Diabetes Care covers diabetes, prediabetes and other cardiometabolic conditions. Not all views expressed reflect the official position of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
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