SMART Goals for Diabetes Management

SMART Goals for Diabetes Management

It's that time of year again — time for a new year and a new start. Whether you've been recently diagnosed with diabetes or have dealt with it for your entire life, managing diabetes may be on your list of New Year's resolutions. Learn how setting SMART goals can help you achieve those resolutions and create a happier and healthier new year.


The SMART acronym was first introduced in the 1980s to help managers meet business objectives. Since then, SMART goals have gained popularity in other fields and are commonly used in the health care field to help patients set healthy goals. The letters stand for smart, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely and provide you with easy-to-remember tools for setting and achieving your goals.


When it comes to managing diabetes, you may already be familiar with the specifics:

  • Your blood sugar needs to be in a specific range.
  • Certain foods cause a spike or drop in your blood sugar.
  • You need to contact your doctor if certain changes occur.

The "specific" in SMART goals helps you maneuver through the sometimes overwhelming world of diabetes management. When you start a SMART goal, ask the five W's:

  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. Where?
  4. When?
  5. Why?

Setting specific goals based on the answers to these questions will give you a framework for how you're going to tackle your goals.


Measuring is no stranger to those with diabetes. You measure your blood sugar, your food portions, the time you exercise and much more. When you're setting your SMART goals, keeping "measurable" in mind helps you find answers to the "how" questions:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How do I know I reached my goal?

For example, setting the specific goal of exercising to maintain healthy blood sugar levels is a start. Add how much exercise, such as 30 minutes of walking every day, you plan to add to gain a measurable goal.


People often fail to attain their resolutions and goals because they aren't realistic. If you're working toward the goal of maintaining reasonable blood sugar levels, ask yourself if the goal you've set is realistic. For example, a goal of keeping your waking blood sugar at exactly 110 every morning isn't very realistic, but setting a goal range of 90-120 for your waking blood sugar levels five days a week may be more achievable.


Relevancy is what safeguards your goals by making sure that they pertain to what you want to achieve. Let's say your goal is to buy 14 pounds of potatoes every time you go to the grocery store. The goal is specific, measurable and achievable, but what does it have to do with managing your diabetes? The real goal might be to eat healthier foods in the right proportions. A relevant alternative, in this case, might be to incorporate half a baked potato into your lunch choices twice a week.


The final letter in the acronym sets a time frame. Timeliness prevents your goal from getting lost in everyday activities and helps you establish the habit of checking in with your progress. When setting goals for diabetes management, timing can be proactive, preventative and progressive. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What time do I do this?
  • Do I do this before, during or after meals or exercise?
  • How often can I do this?
  • How many days a week can I do this?
  • How many weeks/months until I do this every day/week?

Managing your diabetes may not be easy, but setting SMART goals can help make life a little easier.