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New year, new you? How to meet your goals while nursing in the trenches.

You may have thought very little about your nursing goals for 2022. However, like most nurses, you may be dealing with understaffed hospitals with more sick patients than you can handle.

It may seem overwhelming to even think about becoming a better nurse or even getting out of survival mode. One step at a time is all it takes to make a difference. Your goals for this year may need to be smaller, but plans give you a meaningful way to move forward. Small goals are often more achievable than the end result but should still set you on the path to get to your final dream. 

Want to have six-pack abs? Cutting all sugar and expecting yourself to exercise for an hour each day while holding down a full-time nursing job is unrealistic. However, you can make small changes over time to help you reach that goal. For example, this month, start counting calories or macronutrients; next month, add 30 minutes of exercise on your days off. Then, in March, you could add more activity or create a calorie deficit. Doing this gives your body and your brain time to adjust to the new changes, which will help you stick with it when the going gets tough. The same is true for nursing goals.

Remember, well-written goals are long-term projects with a deadline. Think bigger than dropping 40 pounds by your sister’s wedding in 3 months. It’s unreasonable. Even if you manage it, weight loss won’t last longer than the looming deadline. 

It’s very likely that the unfortunate new normal is here to stay for 2022. So let us help you put some goals in place to help you get through another challenging year.

  1. Drink more water. Yes, we realize that goal seems trivial with the number of tasks you need to do. Still, drinking water will help your body cope better, keep you clear-headed, and even keep your energy up. If you aren’t sure how to make that happen, read about it in our article here!
  2. Take a break every month. You don’t need a seven-day all-inclusive vacation to relax. At least once a month, do something for yourself. Maybe you can get your nails done (read this first), or perhaps you can get a massage. Take a weekend getaway with your significant other. If you have kids, plan a date night and hire a sitter. Mark that day, weekend, or week on your calendar and protect that time like a newborn baby. 
  3. Get your budget under control. You’ve probably gotten some overtime over the last year, or maybe you are raking it in with a travel contract. Either way, all your hard work won’t be worth it if you squander your money away. Take a hard look at your finances this year. How much debt do you have? What kind of home maintenance or improvement projects do you want to do this year? Are you saving for retirement? Create a budget and watch your goals happen faster than you thought! Not sure how to get started? Check out Dave Ramsey and YNAB for some helpful hints on budgeting and even paying down those pesky student loans. 
  4. Chart as you go. This is a tough habit to break, and it may seem impossible with your current load. Still, we promise that if you get used to charting as you go while in the patient’s room, you will get more done, chart more accurately, and keep your patients happier. Even better, you will have more charting to back you up in the court of law if something were to happen. Start small and promise to chart your head-to-toe assessment in the room in real-time. Once you start, you will see how much of a difference it can make!
  5. Figure out your next nursing move. It may not seem like you are where you want to be, and don’t worry. Given the strain in healthcare, that’s normal. What are your actual goals? Did you want to work on that BSN? Are you looking for management opportunities? Did you always want to be a pediatric nurse? Once you figure out our next nursing move, take a hard look at where you are. What three or five things would get you closer? Nursing opportunities right now are endless since the whole world is short-staffed. Can you pick up PRN at a pediatric hospital or step in to fill the charge RN duties on your floor? Write those goals down and figure out how to achieve them. Remember, this isn’t about getting out of what you are going through at the moment; it’s about making progress toward the goals you would have even if there hadn’t been a pandemic. Not sure if your goals are still the same? Think reasonably of some new plans, but be aware that the grass is brown everywhere this year. 

Remember, small steps are what make significant changes.

You don’t have to be successful every day, just most days. Only you know what goals you have this year. Break them down into manageable portions, and make sure each step will lead you to your larger goal. We know 2022 will likely be just as challenging in many ways as last year, but you CAN make progress on your personal goals. You are a whole person, not just a nurse. Taking care of yourself can help you keep the tank full to care for your patients.

Happy New Year! We are wishing you peace and prosperity in every way in 2022.

Amanda Ernst, DNP, RN, CEN

Amanda Ernst, DNP, RN, CEN


Amanda is an ER nurse with 10 years of healthcare experience. She currently works as a nurse educator and as an adjunct professor for several schools. She also works as a freelance healthcare writer in her spare time. Amanda thinks the greatest thing about nursing is the endless possibilities and opportunities to learn. What have you learned today?


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