Contributor: Megan Muñoz, RN, MSN, CMSRN, CDE
In partnership with
Ready for a New Year's Challenge? Scrap the SMART Goals!
Yes, I mean it - for now, scrap the SMART goals. You're probably no stranger to SMART goals, or setting goals in general, if you have diabetes. In the medical field, we're pretty good at having you set goals (or at least be constantly committed to change). It's because almost all of us know how important having an action plan is in achieving success. That's true of diabetes-related goals or not.
However, I often hear diabetes described (by those living with it, by healthcare professionals, and even the media) as a disease of restriction. You can't eat THAT, you can't go THERE, you won't be able to do IT, THIS is no longer an option, etc. And, at times, narrowing down and setting SMART goals can be a part of that tightly seamed view of diabetes.
So, I'm laying down a challenge this New Year to
Look for opportunity, rather than restriction. That's it. No resolutions. No goals. No checking off lists and re-evaluating plans if you didn't meet a timeline, waistline, or finish line. Just take a step back, be observant and curious in your environment and about your body, and look for diabetes self-care opportunities.
Considering a new leash on your exercise habits this year? What are things you've always wanted to try but haven't? Where are two or three opportunities in your day (time, space, or people-related) with great potential for adding in activity? What do your blood sugars do when you kayak versus walk? How do you feel and sleep on your more active days?
Have full intentions of making nutrition a priority this year? Try a new cultural food (restaurant or recipe)! Set up a running experiment with a support person----who can best guess the carb count in each other's meals, or what your blood sugar may be post-meal? Experiment with a new fruit or vegetable every other week. Find out what happens with your blood sugars when you try eating more slowly at a meal, versus the usual fast-paced rate of our everyday world.
Stress, monitoring, medication, support systems, advocating for yourself…. you well know the list for diabetes self-care is endless. Which means the potential for exploring is endless as well.
Don't get me wrong, SMART goals and action plans have their place. They get you farther, faster. They are an effective and necessary way of turning visions of improved diabetes health into a reality.
However, contemplation (or dreaming, imagining, even exploring) has its place too. It's one of the most important steps you can take before you start setting goals. Without contemplation, how do you know what you like? What works in your world? Who can fulfill your support needs? What could use some shaking up, and what's working well?
So, this New Year's season, when everyone else has prioritized structured plans and programs, prioritize your right to explore, observe, and reflect. Hopefully, you'll discover something you hadn't before about yourself, your diabetes, and your world around you. There's always time for those SMART goals later.
Megan Muñoz is the creator and host of Type2andYou with Meg, the first podcast by a Certified Diabetes Educator dedicated to people living with type 2 diabetes. Her passion to reduce diabetes stigmas is evident in her podcasting, content contributions, and live presentations. Megan holds a bachelor's and a master's degree in nursing, along with certifications in medical-surgical nursing and diabetes education. She works with people living with all types of diabetes in both the inpatient and outpatient settings.