It’s December, a month for reflections and resolutions. It’s the month for looking back on the past year and recalling its opportunities, successes, challenges and changes. It’s also a good time to look ahead to the new year, what it may hold and what we want to do differently or better.
For most, I think making resolutions is easier than reflecting on the past, and because we generally want to live better each year we enjoy making them. The sometimes lofty plans we make and the to-do lists we create for the new year are often about on our personal lives — be more health conscious, budget more carefully or be more organized. We know we may not follow through on all of them, but we’re not alone there; everyone fails a little at accomplishing resolutions.
Reflections are different. Reflecting often takes us out of our personal lives and into our professional lives. And as nurses we take our work very seriously.
When we reflect on our jobs and our roles, many of us ask ourselves what went well, what didn’t and why. We reflect on things that make us particularly proud. Did we achieve a career goal? Did we take on an extra assignment or increased responsibilities? Did we join a committee or get involved in our professional organization? Were we singled out for a promotion or a new position? Reflecting on the past also helps us decide what our future goals should include and what short-term moves we can make or longer-term planning we should do to achieve them.
For nurses, reflecting is more than an end-of-year tradition. It makes us think about how our profession is changing; what the job market is like; what education, experience and credentials are needed to stay current; and so on. Should we be thinking about a new specialty, earning more continuing education contact hours, pursuing certification or an advanced degree, or perhaps becoming a mentor or seeking training as a new grad preceptor?
I’m guessing most nurses do this each year without even thinking about it. It’s just part of moving our careers and the profession forward. No matter where we practice or what we do, we value our work and believe it’s important. As a group, we are knowledgeable, passionate, caring, proud and so much more. Some of the popular New Year’s resolutions like getting fit, finding a hobby or decreasing debt are certainly fine. But maybe they’re not enough for us. We like to dig deeper and think bigger.
Here’s an important reminder for you all: Nursing is the largest group of healthcare professionals in the nation — making up almost 18% of the national gross domestic product — and what we do is crucial to the health and welfare of millions. These are amazing facts that came to fruition because, at some point, we all made resolutions to join an amazing profession.
Happy Holidays to all. I’m looking for forward to talking with you all in the new year.