Part of living and thriving with diabetes means being a self-manager. As a self-manager, you take control of your health by:
- knowing about your health problems
- making informed choices about your health
- tracking and managing your symptoms
- finding answers and solving problems about your health
Being a self-manager will help you live longer, feel better, and have less health problems. To self-manage your diabetes, learn about this disease; track and manage your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol; and talk to your healthcare team when you have questions.
Sometimes being a self-manager means making changes to one or more areas of your life such as:
- eating habits
- exercise habits
- sleep habits
- how you deal with stress and emotions
- taking your medicine as prescribed
These changes take time and can impact your family, work, and social life. Follow the 3 steps below to help you make changes.
- Define your vision.
Find tips to help you define your vision »
- Set goals.
Find out how to set manageable goals »
- Build action plans.
Find out what an action plan is and how to build one »
It is not always easy to become a self-manager and make changes in your life. You are not alone. Many people will help you become a self-manager. They can support you with your changes.
Talk to the people below for help:
- family doctor
- diabetes doctor (endocrinologist)
- diabetes education team (such as a nurse and a dietitian)
- exercise specialist
- social worker or psychologist
- family and friends
- other people living with diabetes
Define Your Vision
The first step to make changes is to define your vision. Your vision is what you work toward. Read the examples below to help you define your vision.
How to Define Your Vision
Picture yourself in the future and ask yourself 2 questions:
- What do I want to feel like in the future?
“I want to feel good.”
“I want to feel healthy.”
“I want to have more energy.”
“I want to be happy.”
“I want to feel closer to family and friends.”
- What do I want to do differently in the future?
“I want to do all the things I need to do each day.”
“I want to be able to play with my grandchildren.”
“I want to be able to play sports.”
“I want to volunteer.”
“I want to travel.”
Post your vision statement where you can see it every day (such as in your home or office). Seeing it every day will remind you what you are working towards.
Once you know what your vision is, you need to make changes to help you reach this vision. Set one or more goals to help you make these changes.
How to Choose Goals
To choose your goals, ask yourself, What do I need to do to reach my vision?
There may be more than one thing you need to do to reach your vision, for example:
- sleep better
- eat healthy
- manage stress
- track and respond to my blood sugar readings
As you achieve your goals, you will get closer to your vision. For example, when you eat healthy and exercise, you will have more energy.
How to Achieve Your Goals
You are more likely to achieve a goal if you:
- Believe your goal is important
- Feel confident you can do it
- Feel ready to work on the goal
As you write out your goals you may feel like the changes are too much to handle. It is normal to feel that way. Pick one goal to start so you are not trying to make too many changes at once. If you still feel it is too much to handle, ask your healthcare team for help.
Follow the 6 steps below to help you reach your goals:
- Choose one goal to work on and write it down
- Lists the reasons why you want to reach this goal
- Think about how your life will change if you reach this goal
Decide how important this goal is to you right now, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 is ‘Not Very Important’ and 10 is ‘Very Important’)
- If you chose 6 or less, this goal is not important enough to you right now. Choose a new goal to work on.
- If you chose 7 or higher, go to Step 4.
Decide how confident you are that you can achieve this goal, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 is ‘Not Very Important’ and 10 is ‘Very Important’)
- If you chose 6 or less, you need more confidence to achieve this goal. Try to make changes to your goal to feel more confident. If you cannot make changes to your goal, choose a new goal to work on.
- If you chose 7 or higher, go to Step 5.
Decide how ready you are to work on this goal
- If you chose 6 or less, you need are not ready to work on this goal. Choose a new goal to work on.
Make your goal detailed by asking yourself 4 questions:
- How will I know I have reached my goal?
- Can I do what it takes to reach my goal? Is it too hard?
- Is this goal going to help me reach my vision?
- When do I want to achieve this goal? Is there enough time?
Create an action plan each week to help you achieve your goal.
- Answer what, when, where, how much and how often.
- Write down what you need to reach your goal.
- Rate how confident you feel about finishing your action plan.
- Review your action plan at the end of the week.
Once you have your goal, you will need an action plan. Create an action plan each week to achieve your goal. These action plans will help you take steps to achieve your goal.
You will need to make changes to achieve your goal. Making changes can feel like it is too much to handle. It is normal to feel this way. Break your goals down into smaller steps each week. This will make it easier to change. Weekly action plans help you decide what you do each week. Actions plans describe your actions to reach your goal.
How to Build Your Action Plan
Follow the steps below to build your action plan.
- Answer 5 questions
- What am I going to do?
- Where am I going to do it?
- How much am I going to do it?
- How often am I going to do it?
- When am I going to do it?
- Ask yourself what you need to do to meet this goal.
- Ask yourself how confident you are to finish this week’s action plan.
- If you chose 6 or less, choose a new goal. You can learn more about your goal to prepare yourself.
- If your action plan is big, set smaller action plans. Change parts of your action plan such as “how much” or “how often”. These changes will help you feel confident and ready to get started.
Review Your Action Plan
Review your action plan once a week and ask yourself 2 questions:
- What went well with last week’s action plan?
- What did not go as planned with last week’s action plan?
If you achieved your action plan, that is great. Make a new plan for this week. Each week will keep you moving toward your goal and vision.
If you did not achieve your action plan, don’t worry. Something may have got in your way. It can take months to create healthy habits that last. It is important to learn how to handle not achieving your action plan. You must problem solve when this happens so you can achieve your goals and take charge of your life.
It is okay if your weekly action plan does not go as planned. Problem solving is a key skill to learn and can help you when your action plan does not go well. Remember that you are not alone. You can get help from:
- your healthcare team
- your family
- your friends