Whether you agree with the latest trend toward simplicity and reducing the amount of things you possess, there’s something to be said for the idea of reassessing.

When Marie Kondo’s philosophy of The KonMari Method hit the stands, people around the globe took notice. With an eye toward tidying up and, more importantly, the simple question of “Does this spark joy?” Kondo has inspired legions to cut back, donate, and toss everything from clothing to dishes.

But the simplicity question also begs a larger examination of the life you lead, and for nurses, this is especially important. When you apply Kondo’s question to your career, it might make you stop and rethink how it is progressing.

As a nurse, you likely came to the career because you had a passion for helping others, for making sure patients were treated respectfully, and for a meticulous approach to accurate methods. But as a nursing career progresses, burnout can take a toll on your mental and physical health as well as your job.

No matter what stage of your career you are in, it’s worthwhile to check in with your hopes, dreams, and expectations every now and then. Maybe “sparking joy” is a little extravagant when it comes to career assessment, but it’s not that far off.

Simply put, is what you are doing making you happy?

If the answer is yes, that’s great news. It doesn’t mean you are off the hook, though. If what you are doing is satisfying personally and professionally, think about what you do that makes it that way. Also think of ways you can expand your professional goals to include activities, educational pursuits, or opportunities that will continue to keep you on the right path. People change and so do careers. If you know the core reasons you are happy in what you are doing, it’s worth finding ways to grow from that point.

If your answer is more on the negative side, it’s time to take a close look at the roots of your dissatisfaction. You might find yourself feeling unhappy in a role that once was perfect for you. But you might have new colleagues, new standards or expectations, or even a longer commute. Your shift could be different or you might wish for more flexibility if your life at home is changed at all. You might even find your work has become more routine than you like and are thinking of making a switch.

Like Kondo’s close examination of the possessions people hold, scrutinizing your satisfaction with your career might reveal some tweaks that can make all the difference or it might become perfectly clear that it’s time for a major career change. Could a new schedule serve you better? Would you be happier working predictable clinic hours instead of working on a unit that runs 24/7? Are you thinking your years of experience are better suited to making changes at an administrative or policy-making level? Or have you been in an administrative role and want to get back on the floor?

Take the time to weigh your options given your basic needs for things like salary and benefits, patient care options, educational commitments, and personal lifestyle. Then begin to chart out the steps you need to take to get back on track.

Nursing is a calling for so many, but it’s not perfect. It is, however, a broad industry, one that offers opportunities for change and growth. Figuring out how to stay satisfied and nourished in a career you once felt compelled to become part of can bring you some of that spark you want.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer based in Bolton, Massachusetts.
Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

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