Don't Waste Time With Goals That Lack Clarity. Define What It Is You're Aiming For
When working with individuals for counseling and coaching, I always start with asking about their goals and what it is they want. So often I hear back responses such as “I just want to feel better”, “I want to be healthier”, or “I just want to improve my diabetes”. But when I ask “what does that look like?” or “what does that mean to you?” many people struggle to answer.
Clarity is key for type 2 diabetes goals
Lack of clarity is often the reason we may feel like we don’t know where to start or overwhelmed. If we don’t actually define what it is we want, in these examples, to “feel better,” “be healthier,” and “improve diabetes,” how will we know if we ever get there? How do we know which roads to take and where to begin? Where is the finish line?
To clarify, ask yourself, “What is it that I’m really seeking?”
Break it down
Let’s break down and explore some of those common exclamations to help gain clarity.
For the objective to ”feel better,” recognize how vague and subjective this is! First define what you feel now and what ‘better’ looks like, what an achievable ‘better’ may be for you.
To feel better for someone may be a reference to mental health. In which case, it may in fact mean to feel happier more often or to reduce feelings of depression. Or this may refer to feeling better in relationships or work settings with less stress, more enjoyment in a marriage/relationship, more meaning in job and life satisfaction. To feel better may involve more of a physical improvement, like getting rid of aches and pains or more energy.
The goal “to be healthier” could go a lot of different ways. Here again, I would first encourage you to define what that word ”healthy” means to you, as this can be very different for different people, then define what it would take for you to get to that definition.
For you, getting healthy may mean losing weight, cutting out junk food, or eating more vegetables. Or it may mean getting more sleep, starting a regular habit of being active, or just moving your body like walking every once in a while.
The goal to “improve diabetes” could have lots of different meanings! I would encourage you to separate what your definition of improved diabetes means and how it differs (if at all) from what others think (i.e. your medical providers, your family members/loved ones, others with diabetes). Your understanding of improvement and what is an achievable improvement may change with time. This reminds me of the phrase “don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20” - (unknown).
When thinking about improving diabetes, maybe for you the goal is to have more stable and predictable blood sugar levels, a lower A1c, monitoring blood sugar more regularly. Or it may simply mean feeling more empowered and knowledgeable about factors that affect blood sugar or preventing complications.
Take a moment
So I would encourage you to take a moment and pick apart your goals and desires. Clarifying your goals is the most important first step in achieving them. Without doing so, I can promise you only one thing, that you’re going to struggle to get there. Save yourself the grief and the heartache, and simply take a few minutes to think about what that looks like.
Get curious! When we ask one question it may lead to another and another. This is going to help to clarify our goals even further. This may even include defining what is even more important: what is NOT part of your goal. All of this is helpful information.
Also, to note, this does not have to be some sort of a laboratory process, critical, or intensive process. Simply taking a timer and sitting down with 10 minutes to think through your goal and some of these clarifying questions is sufficient enough to make your goal exponentially more meaningful and achievable! Seriously, 10 minutes!! We can all spare that. And, when it comes to achieving your goals, I would ask, can you afford not to?
How well does your doctor explain diabetes care terms to you?