See the bigger picture in your career

By | 2016-11-03T17:42:53-04:00 October 17th, 2016|2 Comments

During your career, you sometimes may find yourself focused on what’s right in front of you; a challenging day or contentious colleague may be all that you can see when your work days are difficult or demanding.

The day-to-day details of your career are indeed important. Surviving each shift, seeing the humor in tough situations and getting home safely to your family are essential daily coping strategies.

Do more than survive

While the micro is clearly part and parcel of your nursing career, the macro also deserves attention.

If we walk through our careers wearing blinders that prevent us from seeing beyond the small stuff, golden opportunities for growth may pass us by. Living in survival mode can help us in the short term, but we need to consider the bigger picture.

Let’s use the example of a med/surg nurse who already has three solid years of experience. Unfortunately, she finds that the culture of her workplace has disintegrated in recent months. There seems to be more backbiting, bullying and generalized negativity in the air, and many of her colleagues are clearly unhappy. The end of the week can’t come soon enough; she is clearly in survival mode.

Being in survival mode can be self-protective, but it also can cause the nurse to feel disempowered and trapped.

Widen your focus

If this nurse has the wherewithal to expand her focus, think about her career in broader strokes, and see beyond her daily work life, she will be more likely to begin researching a new employer or the potential to go back to school or seek a certification that will increase her chances of finding a new opportunity. She can choose to focus on the possibility for positive change in her life and career.

A wide-angle lens is used by photographers to capture a more expansive image. Similarly, nurses can use a mental wide-angle lens to take the long view of their career, choosing to see the marathon rather than the sprint.

In a nursing career potentially spanning several decades, you must simultaneously hold both a short- and long-term vision. The macro view allows for greater possibility; the nurse who can bring that view consistently into focus will be more likely to create a career that is robust, satisfying and empowered by forward-thinking and self-determination.

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About the Author:

Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind and the award-winning blog, Digital Doorway. A widely published writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.”


  1. Avatar
    Mary December 3, 2016 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    Right on Keith! I wish I had read this column thirty years ago and had been aware enough to take to heart the knowledge you imparted in this article today.

  2. Avatar
    Luna December 4, 2016 at 7:39 am - Reply

    Thank you for this inspirational advice…Fortunately I got the message, see the macro and going for it!

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