Goal Setting

Rock climbing.

As the New Year approaches, many people start making New Year’s Resolutions around what they’re hoping to accomplish in the coming year.  While early January is a popular time for setting goals (a new year means new beginnings and fresh starts), you can make healthy lifestyle changes at any time.  Just remember, whenever you set goals for yourself, make sure they’re SMART goals. 

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Timely.  Specific means your goal isn’t too broad or vague.  Measurable means there is some way to track your progress.  Action-oriented means you have to actively work towards achieving your goal.  Realistic means the goal is do-able and Timely means there is a timeframe or deadline for what you hope to accomplish.  So let’s say your goal is to improve your Diabetes management.  This is a great start, but how can we make it into a SMART goal?  How about:  I will take control of my Diabetes management by testing my blood sugar before eating and two hours after every meal for the next month.  Stating your goal this way gives you a clear picture of what you’re working toward, which will help you stay on track and hopefully develop momentum to stick with it after your goal has been reached

Once you’ve decided on a goal, don’t feel you have to go it alone.  Talk to your friends and family about your plans—they can help keep you on track and offer emotional and moral support during the tough moments.  If you do hit a rough patch—maybe your A1C came back a bit higher than expected or you missed an entire week’s worth of gym workouts—don’t get discouraged.  Give yourself permission to slip up; no one is perfect (and no one expects you to be perfect either).  Instead, see if there is anything you can learn from your experience and make a plan to work around whatever obstacles have popped up.  For example, if you’ve found it’s difficult getting to the gym first thing in the morning, see if it’s easier to on your way home from work.  Then, pick up where you left off and keep going.  

Finally, don’t forget to reward yourself.  You’re putting a lot of time and effort into making some positive changes and you should celebrate your accomplishments!  For each milestone you reach, give yourself something that will help you stay motivated to stick with it. 

What are your goals for 2012?

(Content reviewed by MGH Diabetes Center. Photo Credit: Bryan Wintersteen)