Career advice

How to stay focused on your goals in 2018

It is common as the year goes on to lose sight of the aims you set yourself in January. But however difficult the circumstances it is possible to keep moving forward

It is common as the year goes on to lose sight of the aims you set yourself in January. But however difficult the circumstances it is possible to keep moving forward


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Do you remember how you started 2018 with such great intentions? This is the year when you would push yourself and become the nurse you always wanted to be. But as January has drawn out, reality will no doubt have kicked in. Surviving another winter is consuming your energy and the pace of work isn’t going to slow down just so that you can fulfil your dreams. What do you do now?

One option is to retreat inwards, but where would that get you?  If you think your motivation is low just now, how would it feel to look back next winter and realise nothing has changed? Feeling stuck can drain every last ounce of enthusiasm out of you and leave you feeling powerless. This isn’t good for you and your career. It’s also not beneficial for your patients, as the likelihood is that the care you provide will be negatively affected.

Seek out solutions

Alternatively, imagine fast-forwarding to the end of the year. How would it feel to have achieved some, or all, of your hopes and aspirations? Would that sense of achievement give you a degree of satisfaction and in turn enhance patient care?

Without doubt the preferable option is to keep your goals in sight and keep moving forward, however slowly. If you constantly wait for external circumstances to change before you do anything you are in effect putting yourself in ‘victim’ mode. Whereas if you adopt a problem-solving approach and seek out solutions to challenges, you immediately take back control and this can help you feel stronger.

If you want to progress in your career, you have to make a start within the current constraints.

Focus on wider goals

To keep you focused on your wider goals:

  • Be pro-active: actively seek out opportunities and remember they don’t have to be on a grand scale. Look around you – what could you take responsibility for that aligns with your overall plan? Don’t let being busy, or your inner critic, put you off.
  • Be flexible and creative: try to avoid black and white thinking by compromising and adapting to circumstances. Goals aren’t set in stone. If something isn’t working for you, or if it genuinely feels unrealistic, look for an alternative way forward.
  • Be curious: take time to reflect on what you have learnt on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • Be honest: though colleagues or mentors can be supportive, they won’t have the time or energy to hold your hand, so it is up to you to seek support when you need it.
  • Be patient: don’t expect things to change overnight. Try to keep in touch with what is motivating you to make changes.

Mandy Day-Calder is a freelance writer and life/health coach

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