Be “SMART” About Your Goals: Part 1

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Happy New Year! It’s now 2007. Time for new beginnings and New Year’s resolutions. What’s your New Year’s resolution? To stop smoking? To lose 20 pounds? To get your HbA1c closer to your goal level?

Some of the most common resolutions include losing weight, getting fit, stopping smoking, spending more time with family and friends, and getting a handle on finances. Chances are, just like millions of Americans, you’ve set plenty of resolutions with the start of each new year. And chances are, come February, that those resolutions become but a distant memory, brushed away like the crumbs of Christmas cookies. In fact, I’ve read that 25% of all New Year’s resolutions are abandoned after 15 weeks. You’ve heard about people who sign up for a new gym membership on January 2, only to lose motivation and stop going by March, if even that long. Yet these people continue to pay for expensive memberships month after month, telling themselves “I’ll get back on track next week…” Does this sound like you? Are you doomed to become yet another statistic?

Whatever your New Year’s resolution is (or are), hopefully you’ve put a little thought into it this time. And if you haven’t, now’s the time to re-evaluate. New Year’s resolutions often fail because people don’t think carefully enough about them. It’s easy to make resolutions, but not so easy to carry them out.

When you make a resolution, what you’re really doing is setting a goal for yourself. We all set goals for ourselves, whether we realize it or not. For example, a goal might be to graduate from college or save enough money to buy a house. You may also have diabetes-related goals. Your goal might be to monitor your blood glucose levels more often, or learn how to count carbohydrates. All good goals.

What many people don’t think about, however, is how they’re going to accomplish a goal and whether they’re ready to do what it takes to accomplish that goal. If you want to get your HbA1c level below 7%, for instance, that’s great, but how are you going to do that? Take more insulin? Cut back on carbs? Walk more often? Or if you want to lose 20 pounds, again—how are you going to lose the weight? Join Weight Watchers? Join a gym? Both? And if you plan to start monitoring your blood glucose levels more often, have you thought about how often you’re going to check? What times of day you’ll check? And for how long you’ll continue the process? Hmmm.

Good point, you might be thinking. Do you see what’s missing? You need a plan of attack. Anyone can set goals. But not everyone will see them through because they haven’t thought it out.

Here’s an acronym to file away for next week: SMART goals. The S stands for specific; the M stands for measurable; the A stands for action-oriented; the R stands for realistic; and the T stands for time-limited. Ponder that until next week, and think about your goals in relation to “SMART” goals.

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