By Sandra Arévalo, MPH, RDN, CDN, CLC, CDE, FADA
As a new year approaches, many of us will likely set goals to improve our wellbeing. However, some of us may notice a pattern of setting lofty goals and pretty quickly falling back into last year’s routines. Creating SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) New Year’s resolutions can help you stay on track and avoid slipping back into old habits. SMART goals will be your path to success. Learn more about the aspects of SMART goals below:
SMART goals are…
- SPECIFIC: Set goals that clearly define what you want to achieve and outline how you will do it. Successful goals focus on a specific task and follow a concrete plan of work that will get you closer to achieving that task. When setting a SMART goal, make sure you can respond to the question “How will I do that?”.
- MEASURABLE: Choose a goal that you can translate into numbers so that you can easily measure progress. If you want to improve your diabetes by eating healthier, exercising, or drinking less juice, you have no pointers. Setting a specific goal of eating a bowl of salad four days a week, going for a walk two days per week, or not drinking juice three days out of the week are examples of measurable goals.
- ACHIEVABLE: If you drink two liters of soda or smoke a pack of cigarettes per day, it will be very hard to stop these habits cold turkey. It’s important to set goals that you feel confident you can achieve. Starting small and working your way up will make you more successful in the long run.
- RELEVANT: You should have motivation to maintain your goals. To ensure your goals are relevant, ask the question “Why do I want to do this?”.
- TIME-BOUND: Defining an exact start and end time for a particular goal can make it feel more attainable and realistic. For example, if you set up your goal on New Year’s Eve, you might like to define how long you think it would take you to achieve it. Usually, it takes two or three months to see a change in A1c, so setting a goal of lowering your A1c in one week is not possible. Make sure that you give yourself reasonable time to achieve your goals.
Here are a few examples of hard to achieve goals and SMART goals that make these more achievable:
- Original Goal: Eat healthier; SMART Goal: I will eat a bowl of salad three days per week for the next month to lower my A1c.
- Original Goal: Exercise more; SMART Goal: To increase energy levels, I will walk 30 minutes per day on Tuesdays and Thursdays during my lunch break.
- Original Goal: Drink less soda; SMART Goal: I will drink only one cup of soda with dinner every day of the week to lose weight.
- Original Goal: Drink more water; SMART Goal: To protect my kidneys, I will drink one glass of water before lunch Monday through Friday.
- Original Goal: Meditate; SMART Goal: To reduce stress, I will take three deep breaths at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Setting realistic and achievable goals can sometimes feel like a daunting task. Fortunately, your diabetes care team—including your diabetes care and education specialist—can help you in this process. Learn more about how DCESs can help you effectively manage your diabetes here.