Career advice

You can be amazing too: six small changes you can make to get out of a rut

Day-to-day life as a nurse can be exhausting, making it hard to embrace challenges, but it’s important to recognise your own talents

Day-to-day life as a nurse can be exhausting, making it hard to embrace challenges, but it’s important to recognise your own talents


Picture: Alamy

Love it or hate it, another summer of sport is upon us. Even for the non-athletes among us, it’s hard to escape the excitement as the media build up our hopes to a crescendo: will England lift the World Cup? Who will triumph at Wimbledon?

Regardless of the result, I enjoy watching sport as I admire the commitment and dedication needed to excel. Mostly I find it inspiring, but if I’m honest, it can sometimes bring me down.

It’s as if watching such athletic excellence in others leaves me feeling oh so ordinary. As if nothing I can do will ever make a difference, so why bother at all? When these feelings sink in it can be hard to shake off the apathy, and I end up in a vicious circle of feeling useless but not doing anything about it.

Comfort zone

Although you may not be surrounded by sporting celebrities, workplaces can still be breeding grounds for comparison.

When you look at colleagues who seemingly do amazing things – or read about nurses winning awards or giving inspiring speeches – you may think ‘why can’t I be like them?’ Try to remember that you are not alone.

When you are doing the same thing day after day, it can be easy to fall into a rut and stay within your comfort zone. But this doesn’t mean you can’t be amazing too.

Critical voice

Many people, including your patients, probably already think you are. The important thing is learning to recognise your own talents.

Day-to-day life as a nurse can be exhausting. If you also feel stuck in your role it can be hard to find the motivation to embrace any kind of challenge.

Not only can this stop you from learning new skills or embracing a project, it can feed the critical ‘I’m no good’ voice. Before you know it, you can find yourself in the same vicious circle I get into when watching sport on television.

Making changes

Although it may seem like a huge effort is needed to ‘unstick’ yourself, you may find that making several small changes can have a knock-on effect. Here are some tips:

  • Stop comparing yourself to others. Former US president Theodore Roosevelt once said that ‘comparison is the thief of joy.’ It is also an energy and confidence zapper, so start accepting and appreciating yourself more, and what you bring to the team, and stop the addictive pattern of negatively comparing yourself to those around you.
  • Focus on your strengths. Instead of investing energy into what you cannot do, turn this around by consciously concentrating on your achievements. These don’t have to be award-winning claims to fame – look closer to home and think about everything you successfully do each time you are on shift.
  • Open up. Be brave and share how you are feeling with trusted colleagues. By sharing your vulnerability, you may hear that others feel the same. Is there scope to offer mutual support?
  • Seek inspiration. When you feel low or unmotivated, it’s natural to immerse yourself in music, books or television that reflect how you feel. Conversely, actively looking for inspiration can rub off on how you feel.
  • Focus on giving. Reflect on the small things that can make a big difference to others. Whether this is with patients, students or colleagues, make a conscious effort not to rush these tasks.
  • Set a goal. Challenging yourself at work can reap benefits, both professionally and personally. But make sure any goals you set are based on your own needs and wishes, not those of others, and try not to let fear of failure stop you.

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

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