Establishing goals for ourselves both personally and professionally that we hope to achieve during the year is an important leadership strategy. There is good research to support the fact that the act of writing down goals is the first step to the successful achievement of those goals. You may have a goal to return to school for a bachelors or masters degree, achieve specialty certification or update your resume to make yourself more competitive when interesting positions become available. For many of us, we never move past the phase of thinking about what we would like to achieve in the future. The following are some suggestions about resolutions that you may want to consider as you establish your goals for 2023:
1. Challenge yourself to make at least one personal sacrifice this year for your long-term career success.
The idea of giving something up ,especially personal time, to achieve something better at an undetermined time in the future can seem very unappealing. One truth about leadership is that it does not come without personal sacrifice. This year, think about doing at least one thing that will advance your professional career but will require an investment of your personal time. It may also involve breaking habits that have held you back. If you have avoided advancing your education to achieve long-term professional goals, this is the year to stop being defensive about what you have not done and to focus on what you will gain by beginning the journey. If you are interested in nursing leadership but have resisted taking a charge nurse role, this is the year to say yes. If you have thought about taking a certification exam in your nursing specialty but never began the process, this is the year to do just do it. Begin to see success as something that you need to incorporate into your life. You may not always be successful in achieving your goals even when you sacrifice but even these failures can provide tremendous growth.
2. Commit yourself to become a continuous learner.
It is often said that the best leaders are the best learners. This is especially true for nurse leaders who work in a health care environment that is rapidly changing in unexpected ways. We know as a professional discipline that our practices should be based on the best current evidence available but often they are not because we don’t commit ourselves to reading journals, doing internet searches or attending professional programs. Challenging yourself to grow and learn is a professional and a personal responsibility but you must also strive to be an intential learner. Many health care organizations today provide great learning opportunities but what is often disappointing is how few staff take advantage of those opportunities. Outstanding leaders commit themselves to learning whether or not their organizations are paying for it or providing them with paid time off to do it. What works for one person may not work as well for another. The key is to find the way that you learn best and commit yourself to engage in learning on a continuing basis.
3. Find a mentor.
You may know that you want to be a nurse leader but are unsure about your next career step. A good mentor can open doors to new learning and help you grow as an emerging nurse leader. Unlike the preceptor relationship which you may be familiar with in the clinical setting, a mentor provides career guidance and help you become more aware of your strengths and areas where you need development. Mentoring is an important career strategy. This is the year to look for that person. Use the strategies provided in an earlier blog – Five Steps to Finding a Mentor
4. Help to build a healthy work environment in your work setting.
Mahatma Gandhi is often quoted as saying “be the change that you want to see in the world”. Building a healthy work environment is not only an organizational responsibility but also the responsibility of every staff member that works in the setting. Great leaders work hard to build strong, positive cultures. Even if you are not currently in a leadership role, you have the choice whether to engage in negative discussions and behavior in your environment. What is true is that the more that we focus on the positive aspects of our environment, the more we will notice them and start experiencing them in our work life.
5. Volunteer to coach a new graduate in their professional transition.
Every year thousands of new nurses enter practice with enthusiasm and passion for the profession that they have chosen. They are the future of nursing and may someday take care of you or one of your family members. All of us were once novice nurses. We would not be where we are today without having experienced the challenges of being a novice. New graduates often become frustrated and disillusioned as they experience the real world of health care. Good coaching can make a significant difference in both reducing the frustration often felt by new graduates and retaining them in their initial work settings. Coaching our novice nurses is a responsibility that all professionals in nursing share although many nurses today feel burned out and are unwilling to make this commitment. This year commit yourself to volunteering if asked and remember that your contribution to coaching future generations of nursing may have a much longer and more profound effect than anything else that you do as a professional.