Overcoming Mission Drift in Your Nursing Career | The Nurse Keith Show, EPS 142

Has your nursing career gone off course? Do you feel professionally lost at sea? It is possible to overcome your nursing career mission drift by digging deep into what motivates you, what’s changed in your personal and professional life, and what you want to accomplish in the years to come.

Lost at sea

On January 8th, 2018, I published a blog post about overcoming mission drift in your nursing career. It’s so important to assess where you’ve been, where you are, where you want to go, and how your lifestyle, circumstances, and personal/professional mission change and grow in the course of your career.

Here are some blog post excerpts. Please refer to the original post for all the details and strategies there in!

We all choose nursing as a career for a variety of reasons. For some, nursing is simply the prudent career choice in order to put food on the table for our families. For others, it’s a lifelong dream. And for still others, the mission and vision of what being a nurse truly means develops over time, no matter the original reason for pursuing this particular professional path.

It’s a given that our career choices are impacted by a wide variety of factors. It’s also apparent that our personal and professional lives are governed by both foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. To be fair to ourselves, we can choose to see ourselves and our careers with compassion when our professional life goes off course, our work loses meaning, and we feel at sea on an ocean of self-doubt and mission drift.

Once you acknowledge that your career is off course, the next step is to identify where things went awry. This isn’t always easy, but it can be done — with or without professional help in unpacking the state of your nursing career.

When you’ve identified what brought you to the game in the first place, you’ve taken the first step. And once you’ve been honest enough to name what’s gone wrong or isn’t working, you’ve taken another leap forward into a new and exciting future.

Now you need to conceptualize — and verbalize — your new career vision and mission. Career drift can’t really be overcome until you can catch a glimpse of what you truly want. A mission and vision come from a clear understanding of your motivations and desires. These can be identified in a variety of ways, and you don’t always need a career or life coach to do it (but that can sometimes help).

Do you want to work with children and heal some deeper part of yourself that wasn’t loved as a child? Is working with underserved populations close to your heart? Have you realized that providing nursing care to injured combat veterans in honor of your father’s service is where your heart really lies?

Career mission drift can happen for many reasons, be they personal and/or professional. And the ways in which you can get back on course are also varied and based on your needs, motivations, desires, and personal drive.

Having a nursing career that feels adrift is no fun, and it can totally sap your satisfaction and inspiration to get out of bed and report to work. Staying focused on what you want out of your career is essential, and since this is a moving target throughout your life, it takes ongoing assessment and reassessment to figure it out along the way.

Be real, be honest, and be willing to do the work to unearth why your career is off base and how dedicated you are to getting back to a place of inspiration and feeling great about being a nurse.

No one said this is easy, but it’s totally worth it. If you spend a third of your life working, why not do work that brings you joy and satisfaction? Those are two of the most powerful engines for your personal life and your career success. Get back on track and experience more joy in your nursing career — you’ll never regret doing what you love.

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Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BCKeith Carlson is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses.

Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—as well as at NurseKeith.com.

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