To manage type 2 diabetes, you might be advised to make lifestyle changes. Your doctor might instruct you to check your blood sugar levels on a regular basis. They might also prescribe oral medications or other treatments.

You may feel like there are a large number of changes to make — and that’s where goal-setting comes in.

Setting specific, measurable goals can help you develop healthy habits and stick with your treatment plan. Read on to learn about the strategies you can use to set treatment goals.

Keeping your blood sugar within a target range helps to lower your risk of complications from type 2 diabetes. Adopting healthy habits can help you achieve and maintain that target range.

Consider taking some time to reflect on your current lifestyle habits and the changes you could make to manage your condition.

For example, you might benefit from:

  • adjusting your eating habits
  • getting more exercise
  • getting more sleep
  • reducing stress
  • testing your blood sugar levels more often
  • taking your prescribed medications more consistently

Even small changes to your habits might make a positive difference to your blood sugar levels or overall health.

If you set a goal that’s realistic, you’re more likely to meet it. That success might motivate you to set other goals and continue making progress over time.

It’s also important to set goals that are specific. Setting specific goals helps you know what you want to achieve and when you’ve achieved them. This may help you make concrete progress.

For example, “exercise more” might be realistic, but it’s not very specific. A more specific goal would be, “go for a half-hour walk in the evening, five days a week for the next month.”

Other examples of specific goals include:

  • “visit the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays for the next month”
  • “cut my cookie consumption from three to one per day for the next two months”
  • “lose fifteen pounds over the next three months”
  • “try a new recipe from my diabetes cookbook every week”
  • “check my blood sugar levels two times a day for the next two weeks”

Think about what you want to achieve, what steps you’ll take to achieve it, and when you want to achieve it by.

Consider using a journal, smartphone app, or other tools to document your goals and track your progress toward meeting them. This can help keep you accountable over time.

For example, many apps are available for tracking calories and meals, workout sessions, or other activities. In some cases, a simple checklist taped to your refrigerator might work for you.

If you find yourself struggling to achieve your goals, think about the barriers you’ve been facing and brainstorm ways to overcome them. In some cases, you might need to adjust a goal to be more realistic.

After you achieve a goal, you can set another one to build on the progress you’ve made.

Your healthcare team can help you set and meet goals to manage type 2 diabetes.

For example, your doctor or nurse practitioner might refer you to a registered dietitian to develop a meal plan that meets your healthy eating or weight loss goals. Or, they might refer you to a physical therapist to develop an exercise plan that’s safe for you.

Your doctor or nurse practitioner can also help you set an appropriate blood sugar target.

To track your blood sugar levels over time, they will use the A1C test. This blood test measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months.

According to the American Diabetes Association, a reasonable A1C target for many adults who aren’t pregnant is less than 7 percent (53 mmol/mol).

But in some cases, your healthcare provider might advise you to set a target that’s slightly lower or higher.

To set an appropriate target, they will take your current condition and medical history into account.

If you find it difficult to keep your blood sugar within target range or meet other treatment goals, try not to be too hard on yourself.

Type 2 diabetes is a complex condition that can change over time, even when you follow your recommended treatment plan.

Other life changes and challenges can also pose barriers to meeting your treatment goals.

If you’re struggling to meet your goals, let your healthcare provider know.

In some cases, they might recommend changes to your lifestyle habits, prescribed medications, or other parts of your treatment plan. Over time, they might make adjustments to your blood sugar targets, too.

Setting realistic and specific goals may help you lower your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of complications from type 2 diabetes. Your healthcare team can help you set and pursue goals that meet your needs.

Talk to your doctor to learn about some of the goals that you could set to help manage your condition.