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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