It’s Time to Get SMART

It’s Time to Get SMART

Wow!! Can you believe that the first month of the new year is almost over? Many of us made resolutions that are probably already broken. So, what is a resolution? It is when people make a decision to do or not do something.  It has become a ritual to make them on Dec. 31st and usually by Jan 31st they are no longer being followed. Often, those decisions are generalized and vague. Here are some examples: I plan to exercise more, I am going to eat more healthy, or I am going to save money. No wonder by the end of the month people revert back to their old ways.

Instead of making “resolutions” we need to set goals that are more attainable and realistic. An acronym that works is to set SMART goals, which can be measured and determine if they have been reached. Using this principle can be applied to anything that you do and all aspects of your life (personal or business). Following is a breakdown of the elements of effective goals:

SMARTS-specific: who, what, when, where, why; simple yet significant.

M-measurable: How will you know that it has been reached? meaningful & motivating.

A-achievable: Can this happen and how? Can this goal be attained?

R-relevant: How does this help you overall to meet the goal? Is it realistic and reasonable?

T-time-bound: set a deadline or time-frame, when will this happen?

So those same resolutions set as SMART goals would look like the following:

  1. I will walk for 30 mins. each day for one month.
  2. I will avoid sugar and eat more vegetables for one week.
  3. I will start saving $50 each pay period for two months.

Make goals and establish how you will get there. You must keep track of your progress and evaluate and review them. Goals should be things that you actually have control over. With this format you can establish goals that will hopefully last until the end of the year or longer.

Resolve to Polish Your Networking Skills in 2017

Resolve to Polish Your Networking Skills in 2017

As the end of the year draws to a close and you start thinking about resolutions and a fresh start, consider a few professional steps to boost your career.

At the top of your list should be your resolve to go to networking events and to make a lasting impression at each one.

You don’t have to be the life of the party and you don’t have to schmooze with each and every person there. Networking is a good way to meet others in your industry while also sharpening your professional communication skills.

If you’re a natural extrovert in social gatherings, networking events shouldn’t be too difficult for you. Introverts might have a harder time, but they can still be successful networkers.

No matter what your own networking personality is, there are a few things to remember that will help you work a room like a pro.

Practice Your Talking Points

You can, and should, practice your networking efforts. Invite some friends over and practice introducing yourself and making small talk that is meaningful. Practice with coworkers at lunch. Stand in front of a mirror and read off prepped cards. Practice until you are comfortable holding a conversation that has real impact with someone you just met.

Investigate the Event

Do a little legwork so you know what you want to accomplish. Do you want to meet a specific person? Do you want to find out about a new trend in nursing? Are you looking for information about certification? Decide what you want to find out and choose at least four people who can help you so you can introduce yourself.

Look Friendly

Looking friendly doesn’t mean you have to plaster a smile on your face. But a natural smile helps when you are talking to others. Mingle. Chat with the person next to you. Do not stand against a wall or sit at a table silently. Be genuinely interested in what’s going on around you and people will catch onto that feeling.

Have a Prop

Some people feel especially uncomfortable if they don’t have something in their hands. If you relate to that, by all means grab a plate of food, a glass of water, or even just a small stack of business cards. Just don’t do more than one at the same time or it will get in the way of you being able to shake hands with people or hand out your business cards.

Follow Up

Because you are networking to connect, you will surely leave a networking event with some business cards or at the very least some names and contact information. Follow up with people who can help you, those to whom you can offer your help, or just people you formed a connection with.

Growing your professional network takes work and part of that is just getting out and meeting people at events. Each event brings something different to the table, so figure out how your professional experience and skills can shine in different situations.

And remember, you have just as much to offer as anyone else there, so don’t think of networking as something you do to get something. Figure out ways you can offer to help others, too, and you’ll be much more satisfied and likely to form strong professional relationships.

Drive Changes in 2014 With A Theme Word

Drive Changes in 2014 With A Theme Word

With spring less than a month away, now is a good time to assess your progress with your resolutions for this new year. How are you doing? If you are having trouble remembering exactly what your resolutions are, there is ample time to regroup and pursue the life you desire.

But you need a different strategy. Start by choosing a theme word to serve as a touchstone for the remainder of the year. Kind of hard to forget one word, right?

Your theme word acts as a framework for the rest of 2014. Your goals should align with your theme. This approach provides clarity by narrowing all of your plans into one single focus.

For example, my theme for 2014 is “kindness.” I have decided to align my daily actions around being a kinder person in every aspect, a kinder wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, etc. Initially, I was torn between “kindness” and “fearless.” I made my selection after receiving an email asking what I would tell my younger self if I could go back in time 30 years. My response: “To be more kind.” And then it dawned on me that I could live the rest of my life by being kinder.

Another way to pick your theme word is by reviewing the list of changes you would like to make in your life. You may want to try out your word for a day or a week. You may need to try out several words before finding one that is a keeper. When you get a chance, come back and share your word with us.

Hopefully, your theme word will inspire you over the next nine months in a way your resolutions never did!

Robin Farmer is a freelance journalist with a focus on health, education and business. Visit her at

Turn Resolutions Into Reality in 2014!

Turn Resolutions Into Reality in 2014!

So in a matter of hours a brand new year awaits. The possibilities seem endless.  

Consider 2014 a blank book with 365 pages. What will you write? How will you make this year different? 

You probably have created a list of all the changes you plan to seek and conquer in the new year. But will you? What will you do differently to get different results?

Goals are dreams with deadlines and action steps.Turn your resolutions for 2014 into reality with these measures:

Highlight the action steps needed to make 2014 a year of growth.

Ask yourself if your goals are realistic. Be honest

Pick deadlines to check your progress. Build in some flexibility for when life happens.

Prepare a supportive network with accountability partners to help you stay on track.

You only live once. Remember to make time for friends and fun activities.


Need inspiration? Help someone less fortunate. It will boost your outlook.

Exercise to help improve all areas of your life. Make it a habit.

When feeling overwhelmed by obstacles, dig deep. Stay focused.


Your attitude makes all the difference. Stay positive.

Engage family, friends and colleagues in conversation about the changes you seek.

Assess your progress. Readjust when needed. Don’t give up.

Reward yourself when you accomplish goals. Then tackle some more!

Use these suggestions or come up with your own to help you buck the trend of setting annual goals this time of year only to lose momentum long before spring arrives. May 2014 bring your love, health, meaningful work and joy!

Robin Farmer is a freelance writer with a focus on health, education and business. Visit her at


Career Options to Explore in the New Year

Career Options to Explore in the New Year

With the new year about to unfold, you have likely reflected on what’s working in your life and what needs altering. Have you decided that the changes you need to make in 2014 include career reinvention? Join the club.

Are you looking for a job providing higher pay, less stress, more adventure or passion? Loving what you do and the people you do it with is the ideal situation, regardless of profession.

Most nurses enter the profession to facilitate healing, combine the art of caring with scientific thinking and educate others. If you are an experienced RN and your current position leaves you feeling unsatisfied, consider exploring these nontraditional career options:

1.  Independent Patient Advocate

This job allows experienced nurses to empower, teach and guide people in their healthcare journey as they seek the best treatment options. These nurses work with the patient, primary care physicians, family, hospital, and specialists, to develop an appropriate plan of care. Advocates can help review diagnoses, test reports and medical records, accompany a patient to appointments or assist in finding the best doctors.

2. Forensic Nurse

The route to becoming a forensic nurse often begins by working as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, who cares for victims of sexual assault crimes like rape and attempted rape. These nurses collect evidence as part of the medical forensic exam and they can also testify in court. They work alongside criminal justice system professionals and may assist with death investigations,

3. Life Coach

If you enjoy educating people on how to make significant life changes, this area of the field may be the career change you seek.  With a clinical background, you already have the skills needed to communicate challenging information to diverse people. This job can also be done face-to-face as well as by phone, email, or Skype.

4. Nurse Researcher 

Do you have strong writing skills along with an interest in studying ways to improve healthcare services and outcomes? These nurses are scientists who conduct scientific studies, collect and analyze data, and report their findings. Nurse researchers often make presentations and write articles and research reports for professional journals and publications.

Whatever path you explore the real challenge will be executing a plan and staying on track as the sparkle of 2014 fades away.

Robin Farmer is a freelance writer with a focus on health, education and business. Visit her at