If It Is to Be, It's Up to Me

Four ways healthcare professionals can rediscover inspiration


Healthcare is an incredibly rewarding field. Unfortunately, many of us lose sight of the inspiration that first drew us to our work. Here are some methods from the author's book, Inspired Nurse, that will help you look at your job in a whole new (positive!) way

Anyone who's been in healthcare for more than five minutes can tell you that it is an incredible field. Our highs are the highest, and our lows are the lowest. During any given day, we might plunge from the peak of saving a life to the valley of seeing one end before its time. Yes, ours is a journey of extreme ups and downs, and it's all too easy to let the latter overwhelm the former. But we have a responsibility to stay inspired. And that means accepting that inspiration isn't a given, nor is it an accident--it's a choice we must actively make each day.

Despite the inherent rewards of working in healthcare, it is easy to become worn down by our work over time. I'll admit--it's easy to get off track and focus on the negatives when you are surrounded by illness, loss, and suffering. Yet, this isn't fair to your patients and most definitely not to you.

Just like excellent physical health, professional success, or spiritual enrichment, staying inspired by your work doesn't happen by accident. Inspiration is a conscious decision. It takes work, it takes time, and it takes a willingness to put aside skepticism.

This last piece of advice is especially hard for us healthcare folks. Our lives are full of gallows humor, and sometimes it seems as though being thick-skinned is necessary in order to keep our sanity. There's no doubt about it--healthcare is an intense field, and coping mechanisms are important. However, the intensity that we experience is positive as well as negative.

On a daily basis, those of us in healthcare get to help people heal and make a real difference in the lives of patients and their families. What a privilege! Why not learn to tune out the negative distractions? After all, your thoughts have a tremendous impact on the quality of your life. Focus on the positive aspects of your job rather than letting the stressful ones wear you down. Ultimately, it's your workday--so shape it in a way that will leave you inspired and thriving.

If you're looking to bounce back, remember: A ball can't bounce unless you first let go of it. So right now, let go of doubt, let go of fear, and let go of skepticism…and see how high you can go!

When was the last time you felt inspired at work? Looked forward to the next shift? Felt like you were "on"? If it's been a while, then read on.

1. Be aware of negativity, but don't obsess over it. Face it: Bad days happen. Rude people cross your path. Nod at these facts, and move on. There is a fine line between being aware of something and being completely absorbed in it. It's healthy to know the pitfalls of your work life. However, it is unhealthy to focus solely on them. Why become an expert in what can go wrong? Who ever got really healthy from being really good at being sick? The really good news is, no matter what happens at work, you can set yourself up to have a good day simply by focusing on the positive.

Be aware of what you are spending your time focusing on. Notice what your peers are focusing on. Ask yourself this: If I started talking to my coworkers about how great the day was or what went well, would they laugh at me? How would I react if someone started raving about how great his or her shift went? These questions will help you become aware of the level of negativity at work and your role in it. Your path to inspiration becomes clearer when you first look at the geography surrounding it.

2. Own your life; don't rent it. Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." I interpret this to mean that if you want to see more love in your world, be more loving; if you want to see more kindness, be more kind. In other words, treat your life like you own it, not like you're renting it.

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