Help people. Make a difference. Enjoy your work.
That’s how you want to feel, but somehow that’s not how you feel right now.
Think for a moment about your job. Whether you work at the bedside or away from the bedside, do you feel good about what you do? Do you enjoy what you do?
If you are reading this post, there is a high chance that you do not. You go to work with the best of intentions, but often feel overwhelmed, underappreciated, and borderline miserable. You don’t feel you can give the care you want to give to each patient. You have little time to do your job well, in fact you have little time to take a bathroom break for that matter.
Remember back when you first became a nurse you probably had a vision of going to work every day and feeling vibrant, energized, and excited. Instead, you finish your shift and feel as if the wicked witch of the west has magically drained you of every ounce of energy. You feel exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally. In fact the thought of your next shift is enough to make you feel beaten up.
This is what it feels like to think you have been handed a code brown sandwhich. I am just borrowing the non nursing expression “when life hands you a poop sandwich” and making it more nursey(nursey….is that a word?).
Here’s the rub, if you are a nurse you “chose” that profession so you weren’t handed anything. Own it! It was your decision. Take responsiblity for it. If you are miserable, I am going to tell you how to fix that.
You see the problem is that you feel stuck. You feel stuck because you have rationalized many excuses in your head. I am going to go over the most common excuses I hear in my coaching and exactly how you can get over them.
I know that the word excuses sounds harsh, but once you realize that they ARE excuses, you are actually empowered. You will realize that you have the power to change how you feel. I am going to guide you through this.
I have laid these excuses out as “scenarios” below, along with solutions for each one. I call them excuses. I will explain why.
The only thing stopping you from doing what you enjoy is you. - Click here to Tweet this.
Scenario #1: You like your specialty but don’t like the conditions of your job (ie patient/staff ratio, administration, coworkers, etc)
Here’s the solution: Either decide to be happy or decide to be a force of change.
There are many things you have to do in life that you find distasteful…Observe your emotions as you perform such activities. Note how often you feel self-pity and resentment. Now recognize that you can wallow in these negative feelings or simply let them go. And you can let them go.(1)
If you try this for at least 21 days and this still doesn’t work, then be a force of change. Can you appeal to your manager about necessary changes?
If you decide to do this, you need to be strategic. Nobody wants to listen to complainers. If you go to your direct supervisor with nothing but complaints and negativity, you will not be successful.If something needs to change, come up with ideas for solutions and voice them.
Scenario #2 You have been doing your specialty of nursing for ‘X’ amount of years and have no clue how to switch to another specialty
Scenario #3: You endured being the new kid on the block when you first started at your job and the thought of enduring that again seems less appealing than a poop sandwich
Solution: Step up and change
This is the exact reason why you NEED to make a change. If you are afraid of feeling like you don’t know everything single solid thing about your job, then you have probably become complacent.
Is 90% of your job using the same skills every day? Do you feel you’re doing the same thing day in and day out? Do you know your job like the back of your hand? Kudos to you. Seriously, pat on the back for your level of competence and expertise.
Nevertheless, if you are not enjoying your work AND you have become complacent, perhaps it’s time to grow. Learning something new is the #1 way to grow in life. We are not meant to stop learning and growing. As children we are curious and we are constantly learning. Somewhere down the line (typically after college and our first few years on the job), we stop learning.
Yes, you may have a few new meds here and there, new supplies, new policies or protocols. But those things pose little of a challenge and do not encourage growth.
So what if you will be the new kid on the block?
Get over your ego, get over yourself, step out and do something new. I know it sounds cheesy but you can do it!
Allow yourself to be challenged. Allow your brain to have to learn a new set of skills. Your brain will thank you for it later.
And you may just feel happier in doing so. I believe the opposite of happiness is not sadness, it’s boredom. Most people are just plain bored. Doing the same thing over and over again for years can make you feel disengaged……..and……well……….bored.
Accept that it will be a challenge and get out there and do it anyway!
Scenario #4: You mother/father/grandfather/(insert other relative) never complained about their job; they just did it and along the way taught you that you should never complain about work. Just “be grateful” and keep doing it.
Solution: Realize that you are not living for your relative
This is what I call the “work guilt syndrome”. You can just hear past generations rolling around in their grave saying that people nowadays don’t have good “work ethic”.
Or are they really rolling around saying “I wished I had fulfilled my dreams”.
Doing what you enjoy is not being ungrateful. It is recognizing that you are grateful for what you have, but then seeking to enhance your life even more.
There’s nothing noble or honorable about doing something you dislike. In fact, I believe it is stupid.
You are not living for your relative. You are living for you. And here’s a newflash, living for you isn’t selfish. On the contrary, it’s the best thing you can do.
Ever met someone who is totally miserable most of the day? A real crochety complainer all day at work? They hate the work, they hate their coworkers, they hate the customers/patients/clients. Or maybe that complainer is you?
Guess who gets the brunt of a lot of their resentment? Their friends, family, coworkers, patients, everyone.
You are not doing ANYONE a favor by being miserable everyday. In fact, you are doing the opposite.
As a nurse, you have choices. This is a profession that has many options. Explore them.
Scenario #5: You think the economy is in the pits and so it isn’t the time to try to make any moves
Solution: That’s a lame excuse. Get over it!
Yes, I said it. Staying at a job you hate because of the economy is one of the worst things you can do. That job has no security. No job has any security. Look around you. People (including nurses) are being laid off and cut back at different places.
Let’s say you stay in that job you hate and then your unit “reorganizes” or your hospital gets bought out by a big hospital corporation and they decide to restructure. Or your manager/administrator/whoever goes on a firing spree.
Now what? You’ve been sitting around unprepared for change; comfortable in a job you hate and your whole world is now upside down.
Instead, you need to drop the scarcity mindset and arm yourself with the knowledge to make a financially smart decision.
If you have decided to change jobs, then do your research and make a transition plan. Start with yourself. Polish up your resume, start using social networks to make connections, talk to people who you know about your career goals, brush up on your interview skills.
Make a smart transition. Don’t just jump because you are dissatisfied. Do some research about the company/position you have decided to move to and make sure it is a sound decision.
Then relax and don’t beat yourself up. Even if it doesn’t work out, you will have tried. It is always better to go after something you want than to spend your years reflecting on all the things you “wished you would have done”.
Remember there will NEVER ever be a right time to make a move. If you are waiting for the perfect time, it will never come. There will always be something. The kids are still in school. Mom is not doing well. We need to refurbish the kitchen. The pig is on the roof. Blah Blah Blah.
There are always a million excuses to stop us from doing things. Don’t let the economy be one of them.
Scenario #6: You have no clue about what your passion is anyway so you don’t know what other nursing (or non nursing for that matter) job would be best for you.
Solution: Figure out what you enjoy
Oh do I know how you feel. I felt like this for years. I think I have consumed almost every “what is my passion” book and program that exists. I learnt something from nearly everyone of them. It just took so long for me to finally put all the pieces together.
I also came to some staggering conclusions. Most of us will never find work that we are passionate about. We may never figure out how to earn money from our passions.
And guess what?
That is ok.
Instead, focus on finding work that you enjoy doing (MOST of the time) and that makes you feel engaged.
I am creating a program for you. This will help you to figure out what work you enjoy doing that you can earn money from. I am working on the program and it will be released at the end of May. You can sign up for the VIP early release notification by clicking here.
In the meantime, start researching. There are myriad books and resources about the subject of finding work that matches your values/personality/lifestyle/etc.
Start looking at your life and the things/times when you feel the most engaged. Ask yourself some serious questions:
- What would your perfect day look like? What would you be doing? Where would you be? In a hospital?surgical center?public health building?out doing home care? etc
- When was the last time you got totally “lost” doing something? So deep into it that you lost track of time because you enjoyed it so much?
- Was there a clinical rotation you did in school that seemed exciting?
- Before or after your next shift, go to other nursing units and talk to nurses there about their jobs.
The point of this entire post is that you need to start doing SOMETHING. Stop complaining and make a decision of some sort and then take action, make choices, make decisions, come up with a plan. You get my point.
The more you wallow in “I hate this” world, the harder it is to leave those feelings and change your situation. It doesn’t matter what your scenario is, you need to do something. Usually making a solid plan alone will make you feel better.
Whether I named your particular scenario above or not is beside the point. You need to realize that only you have the power to change how you feel about your job situation.
I want you to pick just one solution and begin implementing it. Make a decision about which solution resonates most with you and then act.
Decide today that tomorrow you will feel better. Make that your new reality.
In the comments below, let me know the one action you are going to take.
We’ll talk soon,
1. Rao, S.S. (2010), Happiness at work: Be resilient, motivated and successful-no matter what. New York: McGraw-Hill.