Career advice

Paths to positive change: believing you deserve what you want

Valuing yourself is a vital ingredient of self-esteem but developing self-compassion can take time. Health coach Mandy Day-Calder offers advice on how to be as committed to yourself as you are to your patients

Valuing yourself is a vital ingredient of self-esteem but developing self-compassion can take time. Health coach Mandy Day-Calder offers advice on how to be as committed to yourself as you are to your patients


Picture: iStock

Life is tough for nurses and it’s natural to look for external reasons why your career objectives may have remained unmet, such as lack of funding and staff shortages.

But if you want to develop as a nurse, it is also important to look inward, and examine how you are supporting or hindering your route to success.

Very few of us set an objective and follow a linear path to achieving it – often it’s a variation on one step forward, two steps back. This is reflected in the cyclical stages of change model, commonly used in motivational interviewing, which acknowledges that change often happens gradually and that setbacks, although frustrating, are inevitable.

Minimise barriers

This process doesn’t just apply to patients attempting to lose weight or stop smoking. It’s also relevant to any career changes you may be contemplating or want to put into action.

Change can be exciting and challenging, so whether you are aiming for promotion or wanting more responsibility in your current role, you need to be patient with yourself.

You should also nurture a strong inner belief that you can overcome any external obstacles and minimise barriers you may inadvertently be creating, such as setting unrealistic plans or putting yourself down unnecessarily.

Manage stress

You may be unable to change what happens around you, but you can take a minute to think about how your thoughts or actions could be making it harder for you to be successful. How could you do things differently? Would it help to have a mentor who could guide and support you?

Stress is likely to dampen your motivation for pushing yourself to do new things, so it’s also important to find ways of managing stress levels.

We hear a lot about the importance of self-esteem in personal relationships, but how you think and feel about yourself also affects your confidence at work, which in turn can affect your performance.

Value yourself

For example, despite having in-depth clinical knowledge, telling yourself often enough that you aren’t as good as your fellow nurses, or that you don’t deserve a new role, can act like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The first step in breaking this cycle is to become aware of unhelpful ways in which you talk to yourself. If you are criticising yourself or putting yourself down, ask yourself what you would say to a friend who was doing this, and how you would support them in trying to better themselves.

Valuing yourself is another necessary ingredient for self-esteem. You need to feel that you deserve what you are aiming for, and be your own number one supporter. Being kind to others may come naturally to you, but developing self-compassion takes time. Make 2018 the year that you are as committed to yourself as you are to your patients.


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

 

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