Focus on You in the New Year

Focus on You in the New Year

When the calendar turns to January 1, are your New Year’s resolutions posted front and center on your fridge, ready to inspire you each morning and night? Or are you more of an anti-resolution kind of person who finds such promises to be less of an inspiration and more of an intrusion?

Whichever camp you’re in, you’ll find that January 1 always brings fresh promise. Maybe it’s the dozen new months stacked up on the calendar, free of the burdens that weighed you down in the previous year. Maybe just writing a new year down gives you courage to set new expectations.

A new year is momentous and deserves some reflection. Even if you take just 5 minutes, think about what this year might hold for you and where you would like to see yourself at the end of another 12 months.

Here are some things to consider.

Your Job

Are you happy with your nursing career? Do you like your role? Jot down a few reasons that inspired you to become a nurse in the first place. Remember your energy and passion when you first started. If you’re just starting out, use this list to find areas you want to focus on. What can you do this year to continue on that path?

Your Family

Is your home life running smoothly? Since most people have bumps in the road, this is a great time to consider small ways to make your home life run better. Sure a vacation in the tropics would help any family decompress, but if that’s not in your plans, blocking out an afternoon when your crew can go bowling or just curl up with a game of Headbandz or Monopoly might help everyone reconnect. Even setting a few new rules – like no electronics at the dinner table – can bring a sense of calm in a chaotic day.

Your Health

You’re a nurse – do you practice what you preach? Take an inventory of all the appointments you might be behind on and set them up. You can’t help others unless you’re in good health, so think of one or two small tweaks to your routine that can have big impact. Don’t have time for a daily 30-minute walk? Then fit in a 10-minute one. Anything is better than nothing.

Your Mood

Are you stressed (what nurse isn’t?)? How do you deal with it? Using a few simple techniques – like using a quick meditation app or listening to favorite tunes while you clean up after dinner – can have a surprisingly positive impact on your mood. Find what works for you and use it consistently. Reducing your stress levels reaps huge health benefits, and while you can’t always remove the stress, you can change how you react to stress.

Your Finances

No this isn’t the time to start the major financial overhaul, especially if you are trying to make major changes elsewhere. But it is a great time to take stock. Are you on the right track? Are you saving enough? Do you have some financial goals or dreams? Find ways to save a few dollars here and there and save toward a specific goal. Saving for something in particular (a retirement goal, a house, a new car) motivates you more than saving for a general rainy day.

Your Surroundings

Is your home your refuge or does the clutter drive you crazy? Your home environment sets the tone for much of how you feel, so peaceful surroundings can give you an instant boost. Try to keep the clutter under control, but also focus on the larger picture. Paint your bedroom the color of snow-topped mountains or of the Caribbean sea – whatever makes you happiest. Keep a couple of plants in your living room and hang a key hook so your keys are always in one place. Let your home (or parts of it at least) reflect how you want your life to be.

New Year’s is a springboard for change, but it shouldn’t overwhelm you. Use small, effective tweaks to make your life easier, more beautiful, and more streamlined. I hope your 2015 gets off to a great start!


5 Career Lessons from the Olympics

5 Career Lessons from the Olympics

Watching the Olympics can teach even the most driven nurse something new. Viewing the awesome physical feats is stunning, but even more amazing is the invisible, but so apparent, mental focus of these singularly intense world-class athletes. Watching the Olympic games is bearing witness to talent, determination, and sheer grit. We can all take a way a little of that to inspire us to strive to our fullest potential.

1. Half the Battle Is in Your Head

All these athletes think they can do what it takes to win the gold. They know their skills are some of the world’s best and have not only worked to fine-tune those skills, but grappled with and won the nagging self doubt we all face. Their mental preparation is just as intense, vigorous, and difficult to overcome as the physical rigors.

2. Practice Gets You Everywhere

That said, being mentally prepared for a task or a challenge won’t help if you don’t have the credentials to back it up. Olympic contenders train for years to do what they do so they are ready. Nurses do the same. Telling yourself you can do whatever it takes to achieve your goals is going to get you far; learning new skills will take you the rest of the way.

3. Position Yourself for Greatness

There are probably some Olympic-level athletes who just never got on the road to the Olympics at the right time. Either they thought they couldn’t do it, didn’t know the way to go, or just never connected with the people who could help them get there. If you want your career to reach new heights, you have to know how to get on the right road. Seek out people and experiences who can nudge you forward at the right time.

4. Get Up When You Fall Down and Don’t Look Back

Anyone who falls or falters during the most important competition of their lives is going to be unhappy about it. But we still see them get up, brush off, and get right back into the game. We see them continue, more determined than ever, and undeterred. We all blunder, but people often remember how you react after you make a mistake more than they remember the mistake. Falter with grace and let it light a fire under you to do better not just the next time, but every time.

5. Accept the Accolades

Medal winners take pride in their accomplishments. And even if your promotion or great review isn’t seen by millions, it is yours and you earned it. Live with that great feedback for a while and revel in the results of your hard work. If you are part of a team, share the accolades freely. But then let that feedback make you want to do more. Like the athletes have learned, you can get hooked on doing better, lifting up yourself and everyone around you in the process.

Issues to Consider for Older Nursing Students

Issues to Consider for Older Nursing Students

Are you a seasoned nurse interested in returning to school, but feeling unsure about your ability to handle the demands of work, life and studies?

Going to nursing school as an older student requires commitment and planning. If you’re on the fence, start with being honest about your feelings. Is your reluctance to earn a B.S.N. or master’s degree rooted in fear?

Dealing with long study hours and difficult courses as a middle-aged student juggling a hectic schedule can be scary. But consider this: as an experienced nurse you bring advantages to the classroom. Older students possess maturity and relevant life and work skills, which help you relate to the course material better.

Consider your learning style. Explore whether the best fit for you is to take classes online, enroll in a traditional bricks- and -mortar university or an accelerated BSN or master’s degree program.

Think about your career goals. Even if you have a well-established career, pursuing a degree can boost your confidence, change your outlook, provide job security and make you more marketable for other opportunities down the road. Advanced education can also improve your nursing skills. Research links better-educated nurses to better patient care.

Another major perk mature nursing students cite is the positive message earning a degree sends to their children.

Other critical factors that will play a role in your decision include family support, flexible job scheduling, finances and stress management.

As you weigh your options, make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of going back to school. Whatever your decide, learning is a lifelong process. And people are living and working longer than ever.

Five years from now, you will be five years older, that much is a given. But will you have that first, second or third degree you wanted, too? Only you can decide.