I hope you all started the year with high hopes and fresh ideas to make this your best year yet. We are already 7 weeks into 2019, which is about the time people start losing interest or motivation in accomplishing their resolutions. What is it that causes people to fall off the wagon? Why are many resolutions left unfulfilled? Discussing this with my friends and colleagues, not holding the course and accomplishing their goals leaves them feeling down. Many of my friends decided years ago to not “put themselves through the torture” of setting New Year’s resolutions and then feeling bad or depressed when those goals were not accomplished. But others do continue to set resolutions each year.
So what is it that motivates you, your friends and your clients? One of our AADE colleagues has spent the majority of his career studying this issue. Dr. Bill Polonsky has written and spoken many times on how to promote behavior change, including engaging the disengaged. In my opinion, Bill has a real knack with words. I always enjoy his presentations and one that I specifically recall from the past discussed Dr. Polonsky’s concept that everyone is happy and comfortable doing what they are doing — until something happens to make them uncomfortable. I am paraphrasing but that was my take-home message. What can we, as friends or healthcare professionals, do to help to move someone from disengaged and comfortable to a more engaged healthy lifestyle?
“Everyone knows knowledge is power. I think we should take it a step farther – applying knowledge is even more powerful.”
This reluctance and difficulty in affecting change occurs pretty much across the board. When my children were younger and involved in sports, I did a lot of reading on motivational ideas in sports. Being from Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys, I studied Tom Landry. It was said Coach Landry was successful because he was able to get his players to do what they did not want to do (working out 2 times a day in the heat) to accomplish what they really wanted to get (a Super Bowl championship). I tried to apply that same concept in working with my patients with diabetes. I am sure everyone wants a good outcome. No one wants to end up with organ failure or amputations — but what could I do to coach them and help them achieve a positive end goal?
On a recent flight, I overheard a man across the aisle talking to his seat mate. He said, “Everyone knows knowledge is power. I think we should take it a step farther — applying knowledge is even more powerful.” A-ha! That makes perfect sense in diabetes education and management. Researching that phrase, it seems to originate from business literature, but it also applies perfectly to the diabetes realm. The majority of my patients know what they need to do — they know the intended action of their medications, they know the importance of monitoring their blood glucoses, they know how food groups impact their blood glucose values. So why do we still have so many people with elevated glucoses? This critical need for support in applying the knowledge of diabetes management brings me back to the why of Certified Diabetes Educators — that is what we do best; assisting those with diabetes in determining how to apply their knowledge to control diabetes.
So I leave you with a call to action: check in with your clients to see if they’ve disengaged from their diabetes management resolutions for 2019 and help them get back on track by helping them to apply the knowledge they already have. Hopefully you’ll have gathered some inspirational success stories to share with us at AADE19 in Houston, Texas. I hope to see you there!
About the Author
Barbara Walz is an RN, BSN and has been a certified diabetes educator since 1986. Since 2000, Barbara has coordinated a multi-site diabetes study examining the macro-vascular effects of diabetes at the South Texas Veterans’ Healthcare System under the supervision of Dr. Ralph DeFronzo.