Tips to Make 2015 Different

Tips to Make 2015 Different

As the new year gets underway, have you thought about a new way of thinking and acting?

We all know the saying: Jan. 1 is the first blank page of a 365-page book. What will you write and how will it differ from last year? To prevent carrying over a negative attitude into 2015, consider taking these steps:

Adjust your attitude. Transforming your thoughts can shift your perspective and bring you inner peace. Try focusing on gratitude and forgiveness each day to enjoy life more. A positive mindset may not immediately change your circumstances, but it may eventually change your life,

Set up a gratitude jar. Place it in a visible spot so you are not tempted to ignore it like most of last year’s resolutions. Fill it with notes about anything you are thankful for during the year. Share it with loved ones. On New Year’s Eve, read your memorable moments aloud.

Create a vision board. Choose words and images that inspire you. When we are inspired we are more likely to take action. Your board should reflect the kind of life you want, which can include career as well as vacations and a dream home.

Keep a “done” journal. It is fine to focus on what you plan to do, but keeping a separate accounting of time actually spent on working toward your goals may help you use your time better. If writing a novel is one of your top priorities, note the number of pages or words you write each day.

A new year is the opportunity to be better than you were the year before.

Maybe Ghandi said it best: “Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves.”

Let us know how you are doing!

Robin Farmer is a freelance writer with a focus on engaging, educating and empowering readers. Visit her at


Informational Interviews – Part 1

Informational Interviews – Part 1

Have you ever considered a career switch? Do you sometimes suspect your nursing career is moving in the wrong direction, but you don’t know how to correct it?

Like anything, your career changes and opportunities might come up or a new path might interest you. But if you aren’t sure how to make a smooth transition from where you are to where you want to be, you could waste a lot of time spinning your wheels.

How can you find out what you need to know before committing to a full-scale career overhaul? Start with an informational interview.

Informational interviews, informal meetings where you have the chance to ask someone specific career-related questions, are a great way to learn about a different career path or a new role to see if it’s really what you’d like.

This is your chance to get great insight from people who are already where you want to be. You can ask about their education and how they achieved success, but there’s one unspoken rule in an informational interview. The meeting isn’t a time to ask for a job – ever.

Keep the conversation focused on training, education, professional skills, goals, and different responsibilities. This setting is also a great way to uncover the personal qualities that make someone successful in the role or industry as well.

Setting up an informational interview isn’t difficult, but you do have to find the right person to ask. Requesting a meeting with someone you already know or a professional in your network is the best place to start, but you can also do a little searching around.

Where do you look? Check out organizations where people have the job you want or even professional societies. Send an email or make a phone call and let the person know how you found them (this is where a personal recommendation from a mutual colleague is especially helpful), what you’re asking for, and whether an informational interview is something they would consider. A cold call is intimidating sometimes, but most people are flattered by this request. If they don’t have the time to meet, they will tell you.

Be very mindful of the time and effort you are requesting. Keep a meeting short (maybe over coffee or a quick lunch – you pick up the tab) and ask them to suggest a convenient meeting spot.

And while this meeting isn’t the same as a job interview, it’s still a professional situation so be prepared. Keep the conversation flowing and know when to wrap everything up. Even if some of your questions have gone unanswered, keep your eye on the clock and thank the person for being so generous with their time. And always follow up with a quick thank you note.

Read the next blog post for exactly how to prepare and what questions to ask to get the most from an informational interview.

Organize to Career Awesomeness in 2014

Organize to Career Awesomeness in 2014

Doing a bit of career housekeeping at year end can help clear away mental cobwebs and stagnant behaviors. Once you’ve got a clean slate, it’s much easier to make the new year into whatever you most desire.

Here are four simple steps to getting your work into tip-top shape:

1. Update your resume.

It’s fun to look back over the past year and see what you’ve accomplished and what new skills you’ve added to your bag of tricks. Write a stream-of-consciousness list and let yourself go, not worrying whether an item is deserving of mention, and if people will think you’re bragging by taking credit for achievements.

Once you’ve added, deleted, or revised that rough draft, update your resume so that it you ever decide to go for another position or a promotion, you’ll be ready.

2. Create a LinkedIn profile.

Or update it if you already have one. (There’s a nice feature that lets you import your resume so you don’t have to re-type the whole thing.)

More and more nurses are turning to social media sites, like LinkedIn, to gain the recognition and connections that drive career development. Be one of the digitally savvy folks in the healthcare profession.

3. Set up folders, either online or in a home file cabinet.

For instance, grab some manilla folders and mark them Benefits, Resume, Promotions, Vacation, Education, etc. (You can make them even more distinct by breaking up Benefits into 401K, Health Insurance, Disability Insurance, and so on.)

That way, it’s simple to toss any documents in the proper folder. When it’s time to update your resume, say, you’ll have memory joggers about any special projects you completed or educational seminars you attended.

Be sure to mark one folder Praise, then stuff it with letters of commendation, thanks from patients and their families, and employee recognition program accolades. When you’re down and feeling unappreciated, you can browse through that file as a reminder that what you do as a nurse really does matter.

4. Start working with that Education file now.

Decide what you want to learn in 2014 that will help catapult you into a more satisfying or better-paying position. Check with your nurse supervisor or human resources department to see what courses are available and if your employer will cover the cost.

Even if you don’t want to go so far as to add a degree or specialization, taking a course here and there can keep you up to date. And it can help keep you excited about your career as a nurse.

The topic doesn’t have to be entirely job related, either. Perhaps you want to brush up on your high school Spanish. Or maybe join Toastmasters so you’re more comfortable speaking out at meetings. Learning is growing, so any course is a great investment in your professional future.

How will you decide to organize your way to awesome in the new year?

Jebra Turner is a freelance business and health writer living in Portland, Oregon, but you can visit her online at

Organize These Tax Time Chores Now

Organize These Tax Time Chores Now

Is it really time to start thinking about taxes? With the holiday rush making life crazy, do thoughts of W-2s and tax deadlines make your head spin?

Taking a few minutes now to start organizing your papers can save you time and headaches come tax filing time. Even if you have someone else do your taxes, getting yourself organized saves your tax preparer the frustration (and you the extra cost) of having to straighten things out before work begins. If your accountant doesn’t have to call you for missing paperwork or inaccurate numbers, the process moves faster and your taxes can be filed sooner. Earlier filing means you’ll have your refund that much sooner.

Here’s what you can do now.

Start a File

Take a large envelope or a manila file and label it Taxes 2014 and then diligently collect all the tax information that will be coming your way over the next month or so. Triple check all your account numbers so you have what you need. Start poking around your desk or file cabinets for any missed receipts you might need (like for the couch you donated back in February).

Include these other items:

Interest InformationYou’ll want to put in any bank statements, mortgage interest statements, financial information for retirement accounts, or documents from your accountants or account managers into this file.

Employer DocumentsEmployer documents like your Form W-2 should go right into the folder as soon as you get it in your hand. Don’t place it on your desk for later – get it in that file and then you can forget about it until you need it.

Charitable DonationsThese could include donations that were goods or cash (meaning credit card, check, or cash with a valid receipt). Did you contribute to your daughter’s charity bike ride or donate stacks of gently worn clothes to a charity? Make sure every receipt is in the folder so you can claim your donations as a tax deduction. Believe it or not, those small donations add up quickly over the course of a year.

Mileage – If you volunteer for a charity, you can take the mileage you drive (although not the hours you worked) while volunteering as a tax deduction. Keep notes of your miles with the dates, times, and purpose so you can claim it come tax season.

Invoices for Side Work Projects – Did you edit a journal article? Did you moonlight as a caregiver for a few months? You still need to claim the income you earned. If it was below $600, you won’t get a Form W-2 from your employer, but you still have to claim your earnings on your personal income tax return (generally it’s claimed under “other income”). Keep your paycheck stubs for reference.

Check Last Year’s Return

If things remained pretty much the same this year as last year, check over your income tax return from last year. Compare what you had to what you have now to make sure you aren’t forgetting or omitting anything.

Keep Track of Deadlines

Lastly take a few minutes to mark down important dates. You’ll need all your interest statements and income tax statements by January 31, 2015. The last date to file your taxes is April 15, 2015.

Getting started now means you’ll feel less pressure later. The best part is that you don’t have to do everything all at once. Check off one or two tasks a week and pretty soon, you’ll be ready for tax time.

Don’t drink your holiday calories!

Don’t drink your holiday calories!

Holiday alcoholic drinks aren’t usually healthy, in fact they’re often big sugar-, fat-,and calorie-bombs. Don’t get derailed during this celebratory time of year because you think beverages won’t affect your overall healthy food goals. They most definitely do!

Here are some things to consider before you raise a glass this season:

1. Ask yourself if you should be drinking alcohol at all. Some reasons not to: family or personal history of alcohol abuse; prescription meds for high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, etc. that don’t mix with alcohol; ditto for over-the-counter drugs; also, postmenipausal women and ones with a family history of breast cancer should not imbibe. 

2. Ask yourself if drinking makes you gain weight. Stay within the recommended limit of a drink a day for women and two drinks for men, and you’ll likely find that alcohol doesn’t impact your healthy eating plan. If you overdo it, though, you may find that it derails your weight goals. One reason why that might be? Moderate drinking decreases stress eating while guzzling drinks loosens inibitions so your good intentions regarding diet go right out the window.

3. As yourself if you’re making wise choices regarding alcoholic beverages. For instance, a 5 ounce glass of wine is only about 125 calories and contains some healthful nutrients. But what if you substitute a holiday drink such as spiked eggnog? That’s quite a different story! An 8 ounce serving of eggnog packs a whopping 321 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 21 grams of sugar. Hot spiked cider? That clocks in at 212 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 27 grams of sugar. An Irish coffee is 193 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 9 grams of sugar. 

A once in a while indulgance isn’t the end of the world, but making a habit of drinking these rich caloric drinks during the holiday season can be disasterous. Limit the damage by stopping at one drink. And make sure it’s a small pour (some bartenders, including you, routinely go over 8 ounces). If you can stick to a lighter beverage, such as a champagne spritzer, so much the better.

Here’s to your health. I’ll raise a glass to that! 

Jebra Turner is a writer in Portland, Oregon. Visit her at