• Michelle Law

Giving up on goal setting in diabetes



A couple of years ago I set myself some diabetes goals for the new year.


I didn't achieve them, which kind of annoyed me at the time.


Maybe I was thinking about it all wrong. James Clear, the best selling author of the book Atomic Habits, has a different way of thinking about goals.


To paraphrase him - goals are good for achieving one time things, but if you want to make an ongoing change in your life you're better off focusing on adopting a new identity. This helps you to focus on process rather than outcomes.


I've seen this play out in my own life.


I've always hated exercising. When I was a younger I signed up to run the London 10km with some friends. I set a goal and achieved it! Great! Except that after I completed the run I never picked up running again (that was over 15 years ago).


James Clear's argument is that if you want to take up running, you're better off telling yourself that you want to become a runner. The sort of person who runs regularly. This is the new identity he talks about.


When it comes to improving my diabetes management by adopting better habits, I've given up on goal setting for things like HbA1C or time in range because there are so many things that can get in the way of achieving them. If I do achieve them I can't say "well done me, now I'll put my feet up" like I did with my short lived burst of running. I think I'm better off working out what identities I want to adopt for the long term and try to be that person.


The person who takes a walk every day.


Eats well.


Watches their sugars.


Tries to pre-bolus.


There is no finish line with diabetes after all.