When I speak to nurses around the country and the world about their nursing careers, they often express that they pursued this or that direction in their professional lives because someone said they should. They also express their desire to help people, serve others, and give back to society. These are all laudable goals, but whatever happened to pleasing yourself in the process?

water lily

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash.com

Codependents Unanimous

My friend and colleague Barbie Dossey once told me that a vast percentage of nurses come from alcoholic families, and I totally believe it. We can be a codependent bunch, and many of us have been caregivers and caretakers throughout our lives. Some of us were parentified children, and some of us just learned that it was better to please others than to do what we wanted to do.

We’re Preternatural Givers 

Nurses tend to be givers, and that makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? We give, we give again, and then we give some more. Do you ever give in your personal life when you actually don’t want to? Do you say “yes” when what you really want to say is “no”?

As preternatural givers, we don’t like to let people down, and we often feel terribly guilty when we do. Does this sound familiar?

The Shoulds and Coulds

On episode 97 of The Nurse Keith Show, I discussed “the shoulds and coulds of your nursing career”, as well as in a companion blog post. Many nurses make career choices based on what they think they should do, not what they really want.

I’ll grant that getting a year or two of acute care experience is the best choice for most nurses as they launch their careers in healthcare, but people like me make other choices, and even though we’re told it’s professional suicide, we usually do OK in the end.

Pleasing Yourself

So, how are you going to please yourself in this next phase of your life and career? Whether personally or professionally, what choices will you make that are yours and yours alone, not what someone is saying you should do?

It takes all kinds in this world, and we nurses — no matter how codependent and people-pleasing we may be — need to grab life by the horns and live it on our own terms.


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Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BCIn case you didn’t already know, Nurse Keith is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, keynote and motivational speaker, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses.

From 2012 until its sunset in 2017, Keith co-hosted RNFMRadio, a groundbreaking nursing podcast.

As of May of 2018, Keith is the host of Mastering Nursing, an interview-style podcast showcasing inspiring, forward-thinking nurse thought leaders and innovators.

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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