November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. A time when we pay attention to the lives of those dealing with this illness and boost awareness for the progress we have made and, and the gaps that still remain.  I am sharing my personal stories as they align to my 5 key coaching principles which I believe are game changers for your best life with diabetes. 

This week I’m combining motivation and ownership.  It is all rolled up in change.  Both are required.  If you are having trouble with change, this may be why!  

Changes

If you have diabetes, there is no doubt at some point you wished things were different.  You wanted something new, something better and hoped for change.  Yet most of us are resistant to change as it takes us away from familiar patterns.  On some level what we know seems less troublesome, than the new thing we yearn for.  Diabetes demands more attention to things we’d just as soon not bother with, but when we don’t bother with them, we suffer the consequences. Such a catch 22!!

Expectations of the medical community and change

When given a diabetes diagnosis, treatments are prescribed with the expectation that being informed will enable us to implement these changes immediately, fully and without fail.   These expectations are wrong!  It is not realistic to make such dramatic, life-altering changes all at once.  Yet our providers may label us as “non-compliant” when we are unable to make these drastic changes and don’t live up to their expectations.   We are seen as the problem when we miss the mark.  Our lack of ability or dedication is seen as the problem, not the methodology itself.

Personally, I really struggled with not being able to do all the changes at once.  I knew clinically what to do and I understood how important doing diabetes “right” was.  Yet the leap was too great.  I tried to go from 0 to 100 all at once and just failed miserably. And my providers pointed it out with every review of my diabetes glucose log.  “Bad” numbers, unexplained patterns and “dietary indiscretions” (yes that is literally what they called it when I didn’t stick to a ADA diet perfectly),  meant I was “non-compliant”.  Somehow I wasn’t enough.  Being a nurse, I “should” be better.

Too much, Too fast

We know we need to change, we want to change, but yet we fail to change.  Why?   My theory is that we expect big changes too fast.  James Prochaska and other’s studies have indicated that changes take slowly over time. And the person changes only when they are willing and ready to. This concept is missing in typical medical treatment plans.   In coaching we strive to work towards VERY small meaningful goals that are easy to achieve and stick to.  Believe it or not, you are already doing that.  Every day you are influenced by many things that make you change such as the news, advertising, family and friends and so on.   Little small bits of info that continuously evolve your perspective and ideas.  So small they don’t shake your foundation, but big enough over time that you are not the person you were five years ago. It’s a slow and steady rate of change that leads to lifelong changes

Constructing Change

In the corporate world, change and understanding how people react to change was a common interest. It was mission critical to know how consumer behavior impacted sales or how new technology could be introduced with high rates of adoption.  We know that people accept change more readily when there is perceived value, little effort and personal benefit.  When you want to get someone to change you do it in ways meaningful to the person, in small steps and with rewards.  This is where ownership and motivation skills play a huge role.  Giving the person responsibility for some or all aspects of the change means they are in an owner role.  While tapping into personal meaning and value are the best motivators!

Diabetes Treatment

Diabetes requires vast changes to the way we think about ourselves, how we live our lives, and the expectations of others. The path to success lies in small, incremental, meaningful changes that evolve over time. Success begets success!  Furthermore, success requires the expectation that there will always be something new to factor in and adjust to.  The checklist will never be done.  We will always need to monitor, assess, plan and adjust.  28 years later, I am still adjusting constantly.

Seeds of Change

With that expectation, non-compliance doesn’t exist.  Just a lifetime of small intentional changes.  And guess what you are already doing that!  Next step, just be curious to any small thing that has been nagging at you about your diabetes.  Think about it, do some research, talk to a friend, ask your provider, give it some space in your mind.  Just that simple act, will create change.  Just a little one, or perhaps a giant “aha” moment.  But the act of being curious or interested is all you need to do to plant a see of change.

National Diabetes Awareness Month is a great time to re-assess your diabetes needs, successes and struggles. If it seems impossible to sort it all out, that is where coaching can be very helpful.  An expert set of eyes, ears, and thoughts to help you untangle and start moving in the direction you want to go!

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Best,

Patricia Daiker Diabetes Coach

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