You want to create the professional future that your heart desires, but perhaps you haven’t had much luck with standard career planning methods. You’ve tried coming up with a list of New Year’s Resolutions or setting SMART work goals, but by Valentine’s Day, you can’t remember them.
As a nurse, you’re someone who’s put in long hours in college to earn a degree so that you could pursue your chosen profession. You then clocked in many more hours working long shifts, on an often unpredictable schedule, in order to build a track record in your field.
Don’t stop now—you’re too valuable not to go after all your dreams in 2019. But maybe it’s time to explore a more creative New Year goal setting approach, like mindfulness.
You may have noticed the word “mindfulness” popping up all over the place, not only in health care organizations and the wellness industry, but also in technology corporations, like Google. Glance over any grocery store newsstand and you’ll see articles and even entire special publications by Oprah and Yoga Journal (of course!) but more surprisingly, Life-Time and Harvard Business Review.
So, what is mindfulness? Simply, mindfulness means that you’re paying attention to the present moment—not mired down with living in the past or anticipating the future. Science-based mindfulness practices have been proven, in many studies, to be helpful in creating your best life.
There are multiple physical and emotional health benefits to be had when you aim to live mindfully, including increased feelings of calm and focus, plus improved brain function.
As a point of comparison, “mindlessness” is what happens when you drive home at the end of a 10-hour shift, preoccupied with thoughts of your day. Then when you suddenly arrive at your destination, you can’t even remember how you got there!
You might be wondering how you can possibly plan your future when the whole point of mindfulness is to live in the present. As long as you don’t live in the future, it’s fine to fast-forward and project yourself into possible scenarios that you can imagine for yourself. (The trick—and it really is a trick—is to quickly come back to present-day reality.)
Mindfulness helps center you as you examine what’s really happening in the present and what you’d like for your life going forward. Then you’re less likely to get caught up in regrets about yesterday (woulda…shoulda…coulda…) or fears about what might happen tomorrow.
One important component of mindfulness, especially for nurses and other caretakers, is self-compassion. Like self-care, that gentle attitude towards self will help you to clear emotional roadblocks that may be holding you back from going after your dreams.
Mindfulness and self-compassion can help you be kinder to yourself, and cut through negative self-talk and self-doubt. You’ll begin to believe that not only do you have the ability to go after your nursing career goals, and that you deserve to achieve them, but that you absolutely will!
Or, you might find that you’re chasing a dream that isn’t your own anymore, in which case, maybe you should stop.
For a research-based ideas on how to start your mindfulness journey, visit the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Or for inspiration on where to go next in your career journey, visit Johnson & Johnson’s Discover Nursing website and and take their Find Your Specialty quiz.