Have you ever felt that diabetes management is like trying to hit a moving target? Maybe you get close to getting that A1C goal but never quite hit the bull’s eye. Or, perhaps you get there and then your healthcare professional tells you how you can do even better the next time. Perhaps, you feel like you had things pretty well figured out and then some shift happens to move that diabetes target again.
Some of these shifts can be covert and you may not even know they are influencing your diabetes. For example, changes in your physical activity, sleep and daily stress may make some days more difficult to manage than others. Other factors that move the diabetes target may be more obvious such as major life changes like going to college or losing a job, or changes in your health insurance coverage, or challenges in your diabetes regimen (like starting a new insulin pump or struggling to find a scar-free infusion site).
That sense of frequently “missing the mark” in your life with diabetes can be frustrating, discouraging, overwhelming, and even demoralizing. You can drive yourself crazy with giving yourself a grade for each individual blood glucose reading, meal eaten, and exercise completed, or not completed. It can lead people to feel that diabetes goals are unattainable and your best efforts are never good enough.
The alternative to striving to hit this diabetes-moving target is the idea of shooting for apersonal “good enough”. A healthy good enough goal with diabetes is:
- Ambitious . The words “good enough” may evoke an idea of being okay with some half-baked effort. A healthy good enough is an ambitious effort that reflects the best you could do with everything else you have going on that day. Let’s face it; some days are easier than others.
- Flexible . Understand that your diabetes needs will change over time and goals need to account for changing circumstances, normal fluctuations, and allow for imperfection and mistakes.
- Individual . Goals for your A1C, LDL, and blood pressure are important and need to reflect your life with diabetes, not just standard goals. Work together with your diabetes healthcare professional to set goals that are ambitious, realistic and account for your individual needs.
- Encouraging . This is a tough one if you’ve become practiced at responding to frustrating results with thoughts like “I blew it”, “I’m a bad diabetic”, or “I’ll never get this right”. Catch unhelpful self-talk and practice more compassionate, non-judgmental statements in response to frustrating results. A healthy good enough mindset notices when you are doing well, not just when you miss.
Making an adjustment to the mindset of a healthy “good enough” takes some effort. You may have had many years practicing that perfect shot toward that moving target of diabetes. Transitioning toward a new goal that is more personal and achievable may feel rewarding, but strange. It is helpful to remind yourself that you don’t need to be perfect to have a long and healthy life with diabetes (as if perfect even existed). Working towards a daily best effort or a healthy “good enough” can help you feel more motivated and encouraged with the big effort that life with diabetes requires.
Susan Guzman, PhD
Director of Clinical Services
Behavioral Diabetes Institute