New Year's Resolutions. They're easier made than kept, right? People with diabetes, well, we're known to make "resolutions" about once a quarter or whenever we get our latest A1c result back. But as we turn the calendar from 2010 to 2011, here are a few tips for making sure your diabetes resolutions are successful... no matter what time of year.
OK, it's a cutesy acronym, but we've found examples of this goal-setting method all over the internet, so it just might help: if you've struggled in the past with setting and keeping resolutions, try working SMART(ER) ;)
S is for specific. The more specific, the better, like "testing my blood sugar 6 times a day" or "wearing my CGM one week out of the month," rather than just saying, "I'll lower my A1c by 1%," which doesn't really give you any guidelines for what you're supposed to do.
M is for measurable. Think of something you can track, such as the number of minutes you exercise per day or the number of carbohydrates you eat. You'll want a written record of your improvement!
A is for attainable. Going from zero to 60 is a recipe for failure, because a bar set too high is a bar that feels unreachable. Likewise, lowering your A1c from 10% to 6% is a great goal, but how your body responds isn't really under your control. You want your goal to be something that you are sure you can accomplish. Becoming an Olympic athlete like Kris Freeman might look fun, but that's probably not something you can do in just one year, even if you went for it. You can, however, go to the gym three to four days a week. In other words, "can do" is not just for your attitude; it should apply to your concrete goals as well.
R is for realistic. Further to the last theme, your goals should, of course, be something that you can realistically achieve. If you don't have the tools or knowledge or commitment to do something, then you won't be very successful chasing after it. Tap into the resources you do have, whether it's a diabetes social network or your healthcare team, to help fill in the gaps. Also, be realistic about your desire to do something. It's very popular to make a resolution to lose weight, but it's not a realistic goal if you don't have the commitment to follow through.
T is for timely. A quarterly endo appointment can help on that front, but also set times to check your BG average (once a week) or weigh yourself (once a week). These timely check-ins can help keep your progress top of mind.
Occasionally, some people add ER:
E is for evaluation. Sometimes we set the bar too high, and sometimes too low. If you're zipping along toward your goal, you can always re-evaluate and set new goals that fit the "SMART" guidelines. Or if things are going slower than you'd hoped, it's OK to reset your goals so you're not setting yourself up for failure.
R is for reward. Diabetes management sucks enough as it is, so why not add a little fun into the routine? Reward yourself with something D-friendly, and that interfere with your resolution, like a "day off," a trip to the spa, or a new book. Whatever "floats your boat," as a friend of mine likes to say.
And lastly: don't go it alone.
Thank goodness for the D-OC, right? Studies have shown that seeking support and announcing your plans to another person helps keep you more accountable and on track toward achieving your goals. Even these things are getting more hi-tech this year, as a company called (add)venture has launched new site called iResolve to connect and track your progress. iResolve lets you store your resolutions online and share them with your social networks, or you can keep them private if you wish. The site sends you periodic resolution reminderd, since many of us tend to forget our resolutions by late January. For other useful tech tools, check out Mashable's guide to the top iPhone apps for keeping your New Year's Resolutions.
Proof's in the pudding!
A study at the University of Hertfordshire showed that the people most successful at keeping their New Year's Resolutions did at least three of the following things:
* broke their goal into smaller steps
* rewarded themselves when they achieved one of these
* told their friends about their goals
* focused on the benefits of success
* kept a diary of their progress.
So, Dear Readers, are you making any diabetes resolutions for 2011? If you are, let us know how you plan to accomplish them in the comments below. We're taking copious notes over here.