WHAT TO DO BEFORE SETTING GOALS AS A YOUNG NURSE

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“People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals—that is, goals that do not inspire them.”

Tony Robbins

The year is still new, and we all have a lot of new year resolutions. 

There were lots of things we did not achieve in 2021. We carried them over to 2022 to start on a clean sheet. 

Maybe the time was not right last year.  

But the truth is, no one actually knows the right time. And if one is not careful, we will be carrying over the resolutions for this year into the next year, and the next, and it goes on and on, and on. 

By the time you look back 5-10 years, you will discover that you have wasted time without any meaningful achievements.

And when it comes to the nursing profession, it is not just the time wasted. 

It’s the lack of advancement in your career. 

It’s the family times you missed out on.

It’s the burnout you begin to suffer.

It’s the bad back and knees you have to deal with.

A lot of nurses tend to go with the wind. Not because they want to, but because they do not know any better. 

And due to the unique nature of our profession, it is very easy to get sucked into the tide, to get drowned without a clear picture of where you are going. 

Setting Definite Goals


It is not enough to say I want a high-paying job, or I do not want to suffer burnout, or I will do a master’s in nursing. 

Those are goals, yes, but those are very vague goals.

They tell you to set a S.M.A.R.T goal, but no one tells you how to set a S.M.A.R.T goal. And how to set one in regards to your profession. And what to do before setting those goals.

“(S.M.A.R.T is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Accurate, Realistic, and Timely).”

You see, (4) components come into play before setting goals as a nurse. But before we go into that, take a look at this picture:

Mr. A wants to leave his village for the city. He doesn’t feel satisfied in his village. After all the school fees and money spent to get his certificate, he has been unable to secure a good-paying job. He cannot settle down because he cannot take care of himself not to talk of a wife and kids. One day, he decides to go to Lagos, after all, it is a big city and rich people stay there. And he heard there are so many opportunities for everyone. So, he packs his bags, gets on a plane, and heads to Lagos. He is bunking with his friend and starts applying for a job. Luckily for him, he gets a job with good pay and is excited to begin. After calculating the amount he will send home, the amount for bills and necessities, he still had enough to save and flex. He continues to work and keeps saving, and soon enough rents his own apartment. He gets married, and of course, has kids. Life is good to him, or so he thinks. 

A few years down the line, he starts becoming moody. He doesn’t like his position anymore as he has been there without a promotion. With his family and parents at home, bills start increasing and he finds himself working extra just to meet up. He starts looking for other jobs to supplement his current income but to no avail. It doesn’t take long before Mr. A gets depressed and starts battling with other health conditions.

And every other average young nurse out there starts just like Mr. A. 

We want more but without clarity on what more is. 

You see, he never defined what he wanted from Lagos. 

He never defined what he wanted from his job. He was going with the flow.

So, before you continue reading, ask yourself this question:

What exactly is my end goal as a nurse?

You do not need to have the answer to that immediately. 

But you can answer them bit by bit with the (4) components I mentioned earlier:

1) Specialty: Nursing is broad with different specialties and sub-specialties. What area interests you? Is it “med-surg?” Accident & Emergency? Intensive Care Unit? Or totally out of the hospital? 

Do you want to be a school nurse? 

Bonus tip: If you are not sure of the field, you can ask to shadow in that field for a day or two. That will give you an insight as to what you may like or not like.

2) Money: The terms ‘high-income,’ ‘big salary,’ and many others are relative. What is big to me may be small to you. 

So how much do you want to earn monthly/annually?

How much can you take home that will make you excited to get out of bed every morning to go to work? Write it down.

Bonus Tip: No amount is too small or too big.

3) Country: This is an important factor to consider when setting goals today.

Do you want to remain in your home country or do you want to travel out? 

It all depends on you. You can only start working on your goals if you have this answer.

If you are confused, you can ask yourself – “where do I see myself in 5 years”? 

Are you in your home country or in another country? Or shuffling between two countries?

For instance, If you see yourself in the UK in the next two years, I would expect that you already know what English test you need to write. 

I would expect you to know the UK pathway for nurses. I would expect you are already gathering funds.

4) A combination of two or all factors: Sometimes to set goals, you may need to combine the specialty and the money involved. Or specialty and country. Or country and specialty.

At the end of the day, to effectively use the steps outlined ask yourself these (4) questions:

· What exactly do I want out of nursing?

· Do I know exactly how I can get there?

· With my current situation, is it possible to get there?

· What should I put in place to get there?

Answering these questions gives you the clarity needed to set ‘S.M.A.R.T’  goals.

“A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.”

Walt Disney

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