How can you get back on track when your career has taken a wrong turn?
When your nursing career is on the right track and things are going well, being a nurse can feel fantastic. However, if your career has drifted off course, your identity as a nurse can begin to feel less than solid. How can you get back on track when your career has taken a wrong turn?
Nursing Career Drift
Nursing career drift occurs when your career just happens to you rather than you taking a proactive stance to make it happen. Career drift can be the result of laziness, boredom, less than perfect choices, a lack of obvious viable career options, or any number of other reasons.
Temporary disability, a long illness, or a need to leave the workforce in order to care for a loved one, may all potentially cause your nursing career to stagnate. If you’ve been bullied, harassed, intimidated, or otherwise treated poorly in your work as a nurse, this too can lead to your career taking a tumble.
Your career is like a vehicle in need of fuel, air in the tyres, some ongoing maintenance, and occasional large-scale repairs. If there’s no fuel to be had in the form of inspiration or a job you can truly love, things can go south pretty quickly. And if all of the air is drained out of your career’s tyres, you’re not going anywhere.
Drifting as a nursing professional can make you feel like you’re totally untethered, unsupported, and lacking in direction. Getting back on track is essential before burnout sets in or you simply leave the profession altogether out of frustration and uncertainty.
On a personal level, it may actually be your intimate relationships that are holding you back. Does your spouse or partner belittle your nursing career? Do they not understand what you do or why you do it? Maybe that person is really the problem.
Or perhaps your living situation is utterly intolerable. Sometimes it’s not our work but the context of our lives that throws things off balance. Be sure to explore all aspects of your life in order to determine what exactly is amiss.
Finally, it may be that you’ve simply changed since you first entered the profession. Sometimes, we need an entirely new career to lift us back up again. It’s a personal journey that only you can travel, and a decision that only you can make.
Get Inspired, Nurse
Making a career decision without a dose of inspiration may not amount to much, so the first thing to do is seek inspiration. This may come in the form of reading books, articles, professional journals, or nursing blogs. You may also find inspiration from nursing podcasts, video blogs, or YouTube channels.
Other ways to seek inspiration for your career is to meet with and talk to nurses who are doing interesting things. Sometimes, if you’re feeling stuck in your career, you may simply be blind to the possibilities and unable to see the bigger picture. Meeting inspiring nurses who are passionate about their work can open your mind and provide just enough creative spark to get unstuck.
Inspiration doesn’t generally happen in a vacuum, so other people and their ideas may be the key to moving things along in a positive direction.
Remember that inspiration doesn’t have to just come from nursing-related sources. There may be movies, art, or literature that will move the needle for you. Or you may just need to go on safari or hike the Himalayas in search of ideas and a new perspective.
And if depression, anxiety, or other issues are your reality, a little counseling or psychotherapy could do the trick of unblocking what’s in the way.
Once you find an avenue for inspiration, taking action is essential. If you’ve identified three inspiring nurse innovators to meet with, you need to be proactive in order to set up some meetings.
And if you’ve heard about a blog or podcast that seems like a good source of information, no one will read or listen for you – you have to make it happen.
Action may come in the form of exploring your options for further education or certification. You may want to visit a few schools that actually have campuses and classrooms, or explore online nursing schools offering programs of interest.
Ending the Drift
Taking action is crucial to making positive change in your life and career. Whether it’s changing nursing specialities, going back to school, moving to a new city, or ending a limiting or unhealthy relationship, there are many actions that can potentially stop your career drift from taking you even further out to sea.
Creating a long, healthy, and happy nursing career isn’t rocket science, but it takes inspired action, inner knowing, and self-determination to make your career what you truly want it to be.
Seek inspiration, look within for answers, seek help from trusted individuals, and remember that inspired action is often the key to success.
A nursing career adrift at sea can be set on the right course once again if you’re willing to invest the time, energy, and introspection that will move you in the best possible direction. Your professional success and happiness are worthy of the effort.
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on many social media platforms---including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram---as well as at www.nursekeith.com and Digital Doorway.