How to Use SMART Goals for Type 2 Diabetes Self-Care

Managing type 2 diabetes can feel like a big, overwhelming task, especially when you’re trying to reach your health goals.
Maybe you received some alarming news from your doctor stating that your A1C is too high or your energy levels are so low they’re impacting your daily life.
Whatever the case may be, let’s take a look at some common problems –– even ones that you’ve experienced –– and solutions, so you can start feeling better, faster.


Common Type 2 Problems and Questions

Before we begin exploring problem-solving steps, let’s dive into a few common issues that may have come up for you in the past (or maybe it’s something you’re currently experiencing).
If you are experiencing any of these issues, rest assured, they’re all manageable –– and may even be reversible –– with the right planning.

These common problems include:

  • I am starting to get sick
  • I need to decrease my weight
  • My blood sugar spikes after eating
  • My A1C is way too high

As you’re thinking about one or more of these problems, consider these questions:

  • What has changed or is going to change?
  • Has your life situation changed?
  • Have you misunderstood something about your treatment plan?
  • What sequence of events leads to the problem?
  • Are there other problems surrounding the central problem?

Start Setting SMART Goals

Now that you’ve had a chance to reflect, you’re probably wondering where should you begin. Ideas include:

  • Tackle your diet
  • Examine your exercise routine
  • Increase your planning
  • Increase self-monitoring
  • Speak with your healthcare team

But without setting a SMART goal, your efforts might feel overwhelming or nearly impossible.

A SMART goal is a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based.

Specific means the goal is clear, making it much easier to achieve. For example, maybe by summer, you’d like to incorporate 10 minute walks into your daily after-dinner routine.
Measurable goals can be tracked. You’re able to write down your progress along the way, which helps you determine when a goal is reached.
An actionable goal is simply that –– one that requires you to take action. Like the 10-minute walk example, the action is walking (especially after a meal).
Relevant goals should be tailored to you, your lifestyle and whatever is happening in your life right now. Take baby steps and be kind to yourself along the way.
Time-based goals are usually set around a specific date or time (like in the example mentioned). This keeps you motivated and allows you to celebrate those small wins along the way.
Now that you’ve learned what a SMART goal is, it’s time to write out your own SMART goal! Start with one goal, and go through each of the steps. Some problems may require multiple goals to get to the finish line.
Always utilize your healthcare team and support system to find solutions that work for you.


Problem Solving: Try it Out!

What is the problem?

Keep asking why of the previous why. The answers build on each other. This will bring you to the root cause of the problem!
Why
Why
Why
Why
Why

What are some solutions?

Start with the solution you want to focus on (remember there can be multiple solutions to a problem). Break down ideas of how to reach the solution into goals. Break goals down into specific SMART goals, with steps to reach the goal. See the SMART goals resource for help with writing your goals.

Solution
Goal to Reach the Solution
SMART Goal Steps
  S:
M:
A:
R:
T:
  S:
M:
A:
R:
T:
  S:
M:
A:
R:
T:
  S:
M:
A:
R:
T:
  S:
M:
A:
R:
T:

Taking Action

Intention: I want to solve the problem because _________________________________________________________
Awareness: Some situations I will face that may trigger a need to focus on my goals are _________________________________________________________


Re-evaluation

Re-evaluate each goal often and revise them when necessary.

On a scale from 0 to 10, what would you rate your success toward your goal?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

How can I increase my success rating?

Goal:
Success Rating  
What has been successful
What Can be Improved
Possible Barriers
How to Overcome the Barriers
Rewrite SMART goal

Take Action and Assess Progress

Be sure to take time to evaluate your progress as you’re working to reach your goal:

  • Are there barriers you didn’t think of in the beginning? How can you overcome those barriers?
  • Do you need to re-write your SMART goal(s)?
  • Are there other solutions, behaviors, or steps that might help solve the problem?
  • What are the reasons for your success?
  • What are the reasons you are struggling to reach success?

Be intentional: Remember WHY you want to solve the problem, use it as motivation
Be aware: Understand what situations might trigger the need for heightened awareness of your goals
Take a breath: At times there may be a need to re-center and remember to make decisions that will help you reach your goal

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