There is a typical pattern to the lifespan of a New Year’s resolution: you make one (or more), spend all of January working on keeping it, and totally forget you ever made it come February. That’s right, the life cycle of a resolution is about 30 days, only to be revived again come next year to repeat the cycle.
As a nurse, you are used to extending life cycles, and can use those skills to hold yourself accountable and keep your New Year’s resolutions alive until your goal has been met.
- Make It a Goal You Can Realistically Make – A New Year’s resolution should be an attainable goal if it is to be successful. Goals should be something you have to work for but wouldn’t accomplish without some intentional effort. Think of an area where that you can improve upon in your job, and resolve to excel at it by a certain date. This could be as simple as perfecting your blood drawing skills, or it could be more complex like studying to become a nurse manager.
- Be Specific in Your Resolutions – We all want to be better nurses and help our patients, but your resolution should reflect the plan on how you are going to achieve that. You need to take a hard look at where your skills are lagging and devise a strategy that brings them up to speed.
- Avoid Over Resolutions – Don’t overwhelm yourself with a list of resolutions to keep. If you do have multiple goals, set different time lines for when they should be met so that you are not left feeling over burdened by multiple expectations at the same time.
- Tell Your Friends – By verbalizing your intent to meet a resolution, you mentally become more committed to it. Telling people you trust will hold you accountable if you are not meeting your goals. This could be your direct nursing supervisor, spouse or nursing peers. The more people you tell about your plans on becoming a better nurse, the more incentive you have to work harder to achieve that.
- Write Your Resolutions Down – Hang a list on your fridge, bathroom mirror, or even the steering wheel of your car. Try to set up an alert on your smart phone to remind you daily of your new year plans. Facing physical evidence of the commitment that you made each day will work at keeping your resolution in the forefront of your mind.
- Lay Out the Steps Needed to Accomplish Your Resolution – For some nurses, it is easier to tackle a large task if you focus on the small steps to completion. For example, if your resolution is a new certification, then make finding and signing up for a class by February your goal. This can be followed by goals to buy the necessary text books, making time to study, and achieving high scores on your tests and exams.
- Make a Resolution With a Friend – For some nurses, it is the support of a friend reaching for the same goal that helps to keep them motivated to meet it. Others excel when there is an element of a competition involved. Whatever the reason, you may find it easier to hold yourself accountable for your nursing resolutions if there is someone next to you striving for the same goal.
- Reward Your Resolution Achievements – Just as you hold yourself accountable when you falter on your resolutions, you need to allow for praise when goals are met. When making a strategy for your resolutions, include small rewards for your accomplishments. Make them relative to your resolution and nursing career, such as a new bag to carry your supplies, or an hour set aside for a relaxing massage.
- Shorten the Resolution Commitment – If you get overwhelmed at the thought of having to stick to a resolution for 365 whole days, break it down. Commit yourself to a month, or a week or even just for today. With each time milestone that you reach, it will be easier to make it through the next one.
- Take a Second Look – If you do find that you are having a hard time keeping your resolutions, it is okay to make modifications. Take a step back and evaluate what is standing in your way. It could be that you honestly don’t have the time right now to juggle your job, family and an online class, or that you need help from a fellow nurse with more experience to show you a better technique for finding a vein. If you can find the source of the problem, you can then make the necessary adjustments that will help you to keep your resolution.
Keep your 2016 resolutions off of life support by making smart choices from the start, maintaining a healthy support system and learning when to make adjustments. Your skills as a nurse make you a natural for reaching all of your goals for the upcoming year, so long as you are willing to hold yourself accountable to the commitment you are making.