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We love to share insights and advice that helps nurses like you to achieve their career goals. In the days after New Year’s, it seems like jumping right into goal setting and resolution making is the way to fast-track your success in 2019. But that would be wrong.

In fact, we’ll let you in on a little secret: A slow start is the quickest route to your goals.

Huh?

Let us explain. Like the ancient Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare, here’s a popular business fable that shows how a fast start doesn’t always get you very far in the world of work:

Two woodcutters go about their business in totally opposite ways with unexpected results. The first woodcutter starts right in and chops and chops, not stopping until he is absolutely exhausted. Of course, the very process of cutting dulls the blade. Surprisingly (or maybe not) he only manages to cut a small supply of cordwood, hardly enough to heat his own home, let alone sell in town. The second woodcutter takes his time setting up, first sharpens his saw, and then he gets to work cutting. His saw cuts through the tree trunk like a knife through butter. He stacks up cordwood as tall as his house, anticipates a tidy profit, and all without over exerting himself.

As a nurse, you can accelerate your professional progress by slowing down to speed up. Here’s how. First, spend time evaluating where you are, figuring out what’s been working for you (and also what hasn’t), before hitting the road toward new horizons.

Clear the Deck of Undone Tasks From 2018

Perhaps there are things that have been annoying you for a while, minor nuisances that you haven’t taken care of because they seem so trivial. They add up, though, so don’t tolerate even tiny irritants. Root them out. Ask yourself: What needs to get done now so that I can hit the ground running in 2019? Your responses may range from “increase my 401K contribution” to “update my resume” to “apply to advanced nursing degree program.” OK, so maybe not everything on your list will be little or effortless; some things might be quite consequential and even a tad overwhelming.

Consider What Worked Well in 2018

Take a look at your achievements in the previous year—possibly by leafing through your planner, calendar, or personal file of job-related documents. Did you add to your skill set or knowledge base by taking continuing education classes? Did you get a letter of commendation from your supervisor or a heartfelt thank you note from a patient’s family? Maybe you’re most proud of a less tangible accomplishment. Have you finally stopped holding your breath while on the job, breathed a sigh of relief, confident that you’re fully capable in your nursing role? That’s a win! Don’t forget to celebrate your each and every gain, personal and professional, regardless of size or seeming importance.

Consider Where You Need to Improve in 2019

As a nurse, you’re on a unique journey, one that may have roadblocks and detours. By being honest with yourself about your mistakes and shortcomings, you can become better and stronger for the new year. Be careful not to get stuck here, though. Assess where you fell down, didn’t meet your own or other’s standards, or where you left things undone. And then forgive yourself. Consider mistakes as lessons learned, and resolve to move forward by figuring out how to turn a negative into a positive in the new year.

After clearing the decks, you’ll be able to focus on what you really want in life, and not waste time spinning your wheels without a clear direction—or the wrong one. The New Year can be a fresh start, with exciting new plans and opportunities. After all, 2019 is a brand new year with all sorts of possibilities for getting you where you want to go in your nursing career.

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Jebra Turner

Jebra Turner is a freelance health writer in Portland, Oregon. Visit her online at www.jebra.com for more self-care inspiration.
Jebra Turner

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