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!


Sticking to Your Resolutions?

Sticking to Your Resolutions?

If you’re still on-track after “Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day” (celebrated on January 17th), you must have set some excellent goals! But what if you’re one majority who jettison our well-intentioned New Year’s self-improvement goals?

It may be time to add some imagination to your goal setting so that your creative right brain (which favors imagery) is working alongside your logical left brain for an all-out effort. That way you’re more likely to count yourself as one of the lucky 8% of goal setters who keep on keepin’ on until they succeed.

What are some ways to get creative? Here are three:

-Call on your inner self to “dream” your way to your best and truest life. Some nurses are loathe to call themselves dreamers because they think of themselves as doers. After all, most nurses are practical, ingenious workers and that’s what others value most about them. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t also intuitive. Set aside a few minutes when you first wake up or right before you go to sleep, when you’re most “dreamy,” to imagine what you most want in your life. Do you often see yourself on a sunny beach with a paperback and a Margarita? Maybe your heart’s desire is really more R&R, and not that advanced degree you resolved to start pursuing in 2015.

-Pay close attention to your night time dreams. Some people believe that dreams ignored are like letters unread. Do you remember your dreams when you wake up? You can get better at remembering details if you apply yourself. Unraveling the meaning of dreams can be more difficult, but that too is an acquired skill. Just like with daydreams, check for patterns. Do you often dream of walking around naked in public or arriving at school totally unprepared for a big test? Ask yourself what area of your life you might feel exposed or unprepared. If you can’t figure it out, enlist a friend or relative to help you free-associate. Then make sure you’re not fighting against yourself by setting goals that are at odds with your night dreams. For example, if you’re apprehension about your competency or knowledge at work, don’t put in for a promotion or other added responsibilities until your anxiety is lower.

-Treasure map as a fun way to clarify your vision for yourself at home and at work. What’s a treasure map? It’s a simple collage that’s not so much about art as it is to get you in touch with your heart’s desire. Get a large sheet of paper or cardboard, scissors, glue, and pens or paint. Without thinking about it too much, cut out images that appeal to you and that seem to relate to your heart’s desires. Mess around with the images, shifting them this way or that until the pattern pleases you best. Once you’ve got it, glue images in place. Decorate the images or write a phrase across the top as a title. Hang your treasure map where you’ll see it often. You’ll be reinforcing whatever your inner mind shared with you in this creative project.

Jebra Turner is a freelance health and business writer in Portland, Oregon. Visit her online at

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

Making Health Habitual for Nurses

Making Health Habitual for Nurses

How are you doing sticking to your New Year’s self-improvement goals? According to a new book about American self-help, Promise Land, 45% of us set well-intentioned goals in January. Then all too quickly we abandon them. (Even modest goals, such as flossing regularly.) In fact, January 17th has come to be called “Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day,” because that’s as long as most folks hold on.

If you haven’t given up on your goals yet, you have a good chance of being one of the lucky 8% of goal setters who succeed. There’s research that shows that it takes on average 66 days to make new habits so, well, habitual, that you don’t have to exercise willpower. (Scientist Phillipa Lally and team at University College London did the research.)

Here are some ideas about how to make sure your diet, exercise, stress-relief, or other health-related resolutions becomes effortless:

Focus on teeny tiny goals.

Big, audacious, spectacularly ambitious goals are tempting but if you attempt them you’re more likely to crash and burn out. Go for “drop 5 pounds” even if eventually you’d like to lose 15 total.

Pick a goal that is truly your own.

Maybe you like your body as-is, even though the stars on TV look nothing like you. Don’t set a goal to join a gym and get buff, then. You won’t be motivated to lift weights or do squats often enough to make a difference. You’re more likely to become one of the folks who pay a monthly fee but haven’t been inside the gym since their introductory session.

Repetition is the key.

When acquiring a new habit, such as flossing each night, it’s best to start with a ridiculously small action, such as flossing one tooth, and the next night, two teeth, and so on. That way you have no reason to skip a day, and then another, and well, you know what happens then. A break of more than a few days is enough to kill any habit forming mojo if effect.

Why does starting small and making micro-movements towards a goal work? Logistically, by starting small you can take the time to go gather supplies, figure out where to store them, get the hang of using them, etc. Example: Running shoes.

Psychologically, big goals may threaten your subconscious, and so resistance builds up. Small goals are more likely to go unnoticed by the inner-mind.

Neuroscience suggests that it takes time for new neural pathways to develop. Have you even moved a piece of furniture yet find yourself walking “around it” because your body is habituated to cruising a certain way? Ditto for new health behaviors. 

 What’s working for you in making health habitual? Let us know!

Jebra Turner is a health writer in Portland, Oregon. You can visit her online at

Solutions to Stop Nurse Weight Gain

Solutions to Stop Nurse Weight Gain

Weight gain doesn’t have to be a given for nurses, though it sometimes seems that way. There are so many challenges to eating healthy: working 12-hour shifts (especially nights); eating at oddball hours; not always getting a lunch break; often leaving work feeling starved, etc. 

Losing weight is one of the most popular new year’s resolutions, yet according to many experts less than 10% of us actually achieve our goals. So then, how can nurses rev up their resolutions?

First of all, it’s crucial to identify the reasons why you may have difficulty meeting the challenge of change. (That was yesterday’s task.) Then it’s easier to problem-solve those issues in advance so that you’re not facing down obstacles on the fly. After all, problem-solving is one of the things that nurses do best!

Strategies may be focused on the attitudinal, behavioral, or situational — or all of the above. For example: If you gobble up a box of doughnuts whenever you swing by the bakery, you might try repeating a motto such as “A moment on the lips, forever on the hips.” That will remind you that the temporary pleasure of a glazed crumpet isn’t worth the damage to your physique. That’s an attitude adjustment.

Or, you might make a deal with yourself to only buy only one doughnut at a time — in order to limit the damage you inflict to your sensible eating plan. That’s a behavioral fix.

Or, maybe you’ll train yourself to take another route home so you aren’t tempted by the scent of fresh, hot doughnuts. That’s a situational solution. Try a variety of approaches and see which one sticks.

What approaches have you tried in your efforts to eat healthy? What solutions stuck? Let us know!

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