How to Set Realistic Goals for Managing IBS
Last updated: December 2022
Reaching a goal can be difficult. If it wasn't, it would simply be another task on your to-do list. When it comes to IBS management, goal-setting sometimes feels like a path without a destination. However, creating IBS-specific goals can help you begin and continue actions to improve your quality of life. Here are a few tips for setting realistic goals to help better control your IBS.
The time is NOW
Life is chaotic. There will never be the perfect time to work toward your health goals. You may be balancing work, family obligations, household chores, social functions, exercise, and more throughout the day. But there is consistency in many of your routines. Regardless of how busy your schedule may be, there isn't anything that will sabotage it faster than unwanted gastrointestinal distress. Change starts now with small steps!
It's all about working smarter, not harder. In this case, SMART is a goal-setting structure that embraces a combination of key elements that can help propel you forward. This method gives structure to short- or long-term goals, allowing for improved clarity, direction, and overall achievement. Start with the following steps to apply the SMART goal-setting method to better IBS management.
It's easy to say, "I need to control my IBS better." But what do you really mean by it? Do you want to make more low FODMAP choices during mealtime? Does consistently avoiding gluten-free foods make a big difference? What specific actions decrease symptom severity throughout the day? What improves the number of bowel movements during a week? The more specific the goal, the better!
There needs to be a quantifiable way to measure success. It provides insight into whether you are progressing toward your goal or consistently falling short.
This is the trickiest component of all! It's essential to set a goal that will be challenging but not discouraging. If the goal is seemingly unachievable, it will negatively impact your motivation, confidence, and effort to continue forward. Set yourself up for success by creating a goal that requires work but is still doable.
Why does your goal matter? Will reaching this goal improve your quality of life, happiness, health, or overall well-being? Find the reason and use it as the motivator to drive your efforts.
Don't fall victim to the "I'll start on Monday" mentality when speed bumps arise. Instead, set a realistic amount of time that you are giving yourself to achieve your goal.
Honesty is the best policy
Are you giving your goals the ol' college try, yet you don't seem to be progressing forward? It's time for a bit of self-evaluation. After all, consistent efforts drive eventual results. So, if you are at a standstill, you may want to reassess how realistic your goals are. If you believe they are within reach, reflect on what's holding you back. Are there specific actions, behaviors, or mental states sabotaging your path? If the answer is yes, find ways to overcome these barriers to give you the confidence to get'er done. Remember, it takes teamwork to make the dream work! Find an accountability partner or enlist expert health with a registered dietitian.
Plan it out
Change takes practice and patience. Yet, practice takes time – and changing habits takes patience. But planning can help facilitate multiple daily changes that otherwise feel challenging. Spend 15 minutes a day to help set yourself up for tomorrow's success. For instance, use the time to pack a gut-friendly lunch for the workday, lay out your clothes for your morning run, or make a grocery list of low FODMAP ingredients. These small actions can help overcome hurdles that have previously gotten in the way of your success.
Which of the following symptoms of IBS do you experience most frequently?