Finding Your Cache: by Claire M. Blum, MS Ed, RN, CDE
Diabetes affects every area of your life, and in order to take good care of your diabetes you must find ways to make self care a natural part of every thing you do. It is easy to become so overwhelmed with the many things you "should" do that you give up and do nothing, or try and then give up because the things you are doing are not working.
For our 26th Anniversary my husband and I decided to purchase a GPS unit and celebrate by using our new "gadget" to find a Geo Cache. We selected a cache we thought would be easy to find, with instructions that said:
"The walk from this trailhead to the geocache is approximately 2.3 miles. The cache is located less than ten feet off the trail, so please stay on the trail itself while looking for the geocache. The location should be obvious."
Sounds straight forward! But the instructions failed to tell us that there were "other" trails along the way. So, at a point that appeared to be a crucial junction, we followed a lesser trail in the direction our GPS unit indicated we should travel, rather than crossing the creek on a log to follow a trail heading up the other side of the ravine. As we walked along there were times when the trail seemed to disappear, and then pick up again. . . or perhaps not? We found ourselves in the backyard of some beautiful homes along the mountain ridge, and wondered that the trail would guide us along the edge of private property. We also noticed that our GPS unit did not indicate that we were coming closer to our target coordinates. And in fact, it looked as though we were walking along side, rather than towards our goal.
Looking about, I realized there was still a ravine between us and the other side of the creek, and remembered the rules I had learned in orienteering for "walking a course." According to the rules, you select an object that can be clearly seen in the direction of desired travel, and you walk to it. Then you look at your compass to find another object directly in the path of your direction of travel, and walk to it. So I turned in the direction our GPS unit said we should travel, and looked ahead at an object I could clearly see. We then worked our way through briars and shrubbery, while keeping our eyes on a large tree or rock, slowly making our way up the other side of the ravine. When we reached the top, our trail head was clear to see, the geocache was right where they said it would be, and the view was truly breathtaking!
Although our "gadget" was designed to show us the way, without the use of previous knowledge on how to "walk a course" we would not have found our way. In the same way, your Diabetes Care Team can provide you with guidelines on how to manage your diabetes, and they can teach you how to use gadgets that will help. But, without personal knowledge of your body, your past experience, and choices that have worked for you in the past, you are likely to find yourself "off course."
Sometimes the assumptions you make about your diabetes can lead you off course. You may even walk right past your goal, because you make assumptions about what it will be like when you achieve them. And, you may ignore your instincts about what you need to achieve success. When this happens it is important to remember the basics and refocus.
Unrealistic expectations can also set you up for failure. When you don't see the progress you would like, take a closer look at what doesn't work, and you will find clues that can help you discover what does work.
To achieve success set realistic goals, write them out, and break them down into manageable steps. When you plan a trip you don't start by saying "I need to wash my clothes and pack my bags." No. You start with the end in mind. You think about your destination and how much you will enjoy the trip. You look at maps and decide on the best way to get there. You choose a date, request time off from work, and begin saving money. You make lists of all the things you will need. And, step by step you do the things that make it possible to achieve your goal.
Experiential Action Plans
Experiential Action Plans are tools that can help you achieve success.
First: Choose an area of your diabetes self care that you would like to improve.
Second: Choose an activity you can do to help you improve in this area.
For your chosen activity decide:
What it will be?
How much you will do it?
When you will do it?
How often you will do it?
Third: Choose your “Confidence Level” in your ability to do the activity you have chosen.
Not Sure at All 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Very Sure
If your confidence level is less then 8 or 9, think about ways you could change the activity to something you are more confident you can achieve.
If needed, adjust your activity to a level that is more realistic.
Forth: Review your progress once a week.
Did you meet your goal?
If not, what worked for you, and what did not?
If needed, adjust your Experiential Action Plan to try something you think will work better, or continue doing what already works, and add something new.
Tips for Finding Your Cache
• Begin with the end in mind: Decide what you want to do
• Write down your goals and make a list of the things it will take to achieve them
• When things don't go as expected, learn what you can and try something new
• If you find you are "off course," stop, refocus, evaluate where you are, and try again
• Find a Diabetes Partner: Two heads are better than one
• Discuss your goals with your Diabetes Care Team
• Be prepared for the unexpected
• If you encounter problems, change your direction, but not your destination
• Most of all ENJOY the process.
The best part of the journey is what you see and discover along the way!
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