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Benchmarks.

April 11, 2008

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I was debating whether or not to start another blog in order to have some freedom to talk about decidedly non-diabetic topics. It was spurred by my introduction into a Ning (gotta love Ning!) network called 20somethings. I’ve added about ten new blogs just by twentysomethings over the past few weeks and they are completely diverse and interesting and identifiable in the same way that reading blogs by diabetics are.

I was reading this blog called Chelsea Talks Smack the other day and she was talking about expiration dates. Not expiration dates on food (though those are very important dates to be aware of) but about expiration dates on things like relationships and habits. Essentially, why are you still doing things you hate? And if you hate it, why are you doing it?

While I was reading this, I was reminded by a conversation I had with my dad a few years ago in regards to this relationship with a guy I went to college with. Well, I wouldn’t really call it a relationship, because we were definitely not dating – sadly, I liked him, he didn’t like like me – and we were trying, or at least I was trying, to salvage some kind of friendship.

Needless to say, things weren’t going well. After weeks and weeks of trying to work out some kind of system where he was comfortable knowing I wasn’t getting too “emotionally attached” (I’m a girl for Christ’s sake, whaddya expect?), my dad brought up this idea of benchmarks. How long was I willing to work on something? At some point, you have to evaluate the situation and decide whether or not it’s living up to expectations.

In a way, this can be applied to diabetes, but since I know there are at least a dozen people reading this who aren’t diabetic, I won’t dwell too much just on that. But I wonder how many of us have gone on with our routines simply because they’re the “routine” or tried to fix something that simply isn’t fixable, such as trying to manipulate your basal rates on Lantus. At a certain point, you have to realize that you just simply cannot do certain things and then you have to chuck it out the window.

Actually you should dispose of Lantus in a proper waste receptacle. Littering is bad.

Then there are things like the guy from college – think of all the relationships you put up with because you thought, “Well, if I just do this one thing everything will be fixed!” Uh, no. Things like jobs and living situations and lifestyle habits and especially relationships cannot always be manipulated to do what we want. Sometimes we just have to let it go because it’s either bad or simply played out. If it’s not moving you in the direction you want to go, why on earth should you keep doing?

Ever since I moved to New Jersey, people always ask me “Do you like it?” to which I reply, “Yes” and then they ask me if it’s different and I say, “Yes, I moved three thousand miles away to a suburb of one of the world’s largest metropolitan cities and it’s exactly the same.” Okay, I don’t actually say that, but you get the idea.

Lately, though, people have started asking me, “Are you planning on staying?”

First of all, as any of you who have moved three time zones can attest to, moving across the country is hard and it’s certainly not something to do willy-nilly. While I’m glad I moved away from home and ventured off into the wild blue yonder, I don’t think I have the physical, mental and especially emotional capacity to do this again and again and again.

But I have no idea how long I’ll stay here.

I’m twenty-freaking-two years old. Stop pressuring me!

But in all honesty, I need to develop some benchmarks for my life. I have already begun thinking of different things I would like to do in the next. They include going back school, taking time off to travel or working for a nonprofit (diabetes or otherwise). Whether or not I stay is really dependent on if I feel like my life is what I want it to be. I created a one year benchmark for my apartment, which was helpful because that’s how long my lease is. I evaluated if I feel my apartment is helping or hindering my life here, and I’ve concluded its hindering it. I live in a small suburb about 40 minutes by train from the city. There is not much of a social life in my little town, and while it’s nice, safe and easy to get to work, it’s not doing me any good when it comes to meeting people. So it’s adios to the apartment come June when my lease ends and I’ll start this process all over again when I move into my new place.

As far as my diabetes benchmarks go, I tend to evaluate things during my doctor’s appointments, which happen about three times a year and my benchmark, like most people with diabetes, is whether or not my A1C is going up or down. Down is good, up is bad. It’s pretty simple. For awhile, though, my A1C has been holding remarkably steady. While that’s not a bad thing, it’s not what I want. I’m not meeting my benchmark of lowering my A1C below 7.0% and it’s time for me to shake loose what isn’t working and focus on what is.

Benchmarks are important. A set time limit on how long you’ll do something before you sit back and say, “Well, is this working for me?” It isn’t always about what you are doing. Like the apartment, sometimes it’s the thing that’s the problem and you have to cut it loose so you can move on to bigger and better things.

What benchmarks are you trying to meet? Or what benchmarks have you set for other things? Are they working? And if not, what are you going to do about it?

3 Comments
  1. April 11, 2008 5:14 PM

    You are intelligent, personable, cute; and I think you’re going to be able to do so many wonderful things in your life. I admire your goals and your ability to make goals. I greatly enjoy reading about your enthusiasm for life!

  2. April 15, 2008 12:08 PM

    Hey allison,
    do you have any tricks in how you think about benchmarks so they don’t become a condemnation on you? It is a fine line between them being a helpful tool and being a dreaded report-card, and it is a line I’m tryin gto better understand where it lies for folks.

    I chuckled at your description of moving from home to NJ. 😀 It brings back memories of doing that as well. My partner and I moved 7 times in 5 years, which is enough, by golly!!!

  3. April 15, 2008 12:30 PM

    Adam: I think the difference is that benchmarks are not a good or a bad thing… You set a benchmark saying “At X time, I am going to evaluate X and decide whether X is helping or hindering my life.” You just go on, living your life the best you can, but at a certain point, you need to just stop and say “Should I really be doing this?” It’s not a bad thing if you decide to stop and half the time, it didn’t even have anything to do with you – it’s the other thing that failed and you need to get rid of. It’s like the example with relationships, or with a job – how do you know when to break up? Or quit? A lot of people say, “I’ll give this X amount of more time and if I don’t like it, I’ll stop.” And then you stop. You don’t get grounded if you stop, it’s just a fact of life.

    Does this make sense?

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