Your Goals Need to Be More than Just SMART
Last updated: September 2022
We’re told that to successfully manage life with diabetes, we need to have goals. And those goals have to be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.
The limitation of traditional type 2 diabetes goals
For many people, this boils down to their daily glucose levels and quarterly A1C results. Time and again I see people frantic and upset if their glucose reading is above 130, or above 180 after meals. They translate the number they see on their blood glucose meter into a judgment of whether they've been “good” or “bad.” They think that each high number automatically dooms them to serious complications, or worse.
Life requires varying goals
But, do they do the same thing when it comes to having goals for other aspects of their life? Do they feel that career success is measured solely by earning a specific salary? Do they see themselves as successful parents only when their child earns a certain grade point average or gets into that one, special college? Are they satisfied with their lives only if they live in a particular neighborhood? Or drive a certain kind of car? Or marry one particular person? No. They do not.
Life is more complex than any single measure of achievement. And often the experiences that come from attaining a goal are a mixed bag. Raising a child, for instance, involves both joy and frustration. Career achievement comes with a mixture of failure, disappointment, and triumph. It’s that mixture that brings depth and meaning to living life. And so it is with managing diabetes.
Glucose level goals are important, but taken alone they will only get you so far. Glucose levels, while an important measure, don’t reflect the whole picture of your health and wellbeing. Can a morning glucose reading reflect your level of calm? Whether you feel physically strong? Or joyous?
Expanding your type 2 diabetes goals
Consider setting goals that encourage more than hitting a specific number when you check your blood glucose levels.
Improvement and feeling-based goals
Look for goals that encourage improvement in your physical, psychological, and social wellbeing. Weight loss is a common goal. But how about gaining endurance, muscle, and/or flexibility? Could you have a goal for cultivating a feeling, like curiosity or determination? How about a goal to join a peer support group or volunteer in your community so that you feel more connected with others?
Not every goal has to be aimed at achieving an outcome. Think about setting process goals. These are goals that reflect an action you want to start or stop taking. What kind of actions can you take to improve and support your ongoing health and wellbeing? Could you meal prep your lunches for the week so that you eat more healthy food during the week? Would you set a target to start your day with 15 minutes of quiet reflection? Or could Tuesday night be trivia night with friends and family?
Only you can decide what goals are meaningful for you. When you’re considering the targets you want to meet in support of your health and wellbeing look beyond the standard glucose levels. This will open up your options for being successful at managing life with diabetes.
How often do you find yourself craving sweet snacks?