How to set and achieve nursing goals

We’re halfway through the first month of 2023, the time where motivation to achieve your new year’s resolutions often starts to peter out. Whether you’re trying to develop healthier habits or perform better at school or work, it can feel disappointing when a goal starts to become out of reach, especially if it’s something you really want.

There’s certainly a reason why people say ‘A goal without a plan is only a wish.’ Without properly considering the steps and time you’ll need to take to achieve your goal, it’s near impossible to realise it. And without stopping to consider whether your goal is realistic or relevant, you may find yourself working towards something that won’t benefit you in the long run. 

In this article, we’ll take you through how you can set achievable and purposeful nursing goals, no matter where you’re at in your nursing career. We’ll also discuss the benefits of these goals and how you can find an employer that actively supports the development of your career:

  • Reflect on your current situation and your future aims 
  • Break things down
  • Stay realistic and stay kind 
  • Find someone to motivate you 
  • Your next steps
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Reflect on your current situation and your future aims

The most important thing to consider when creating a goal is its relevance to both your current situation and where you think you’ll be in the future. If you don’t enjoy a certain kind of nursing, for example, it wouldn’t make sense to create a goal pursuing more experience in this area. It’s easy to make goals without giving them much thought, but following through on these goals is much harder, and ultimately a waste of your time and energy.

It can also be easy to become fixated on the choices your peers and colleagues are making in their nursing careers. Although gaining inspiration from others’ achievements can be a great source of motivation, comparing yourself to others too intensely will only distract you from what you want and need in your nursing career, and leave you unfulfilled as a result.

If you’re keen to make nursing goals for yourself this year, keeping those goals relevant is the first key step to success. Here are a few things you can consider to keep your goals focused on you:

  • What have I already achieved in my nursing career? How can I build upon those achievements and reach even greater heights?
  • What do I enjoy about nursing? How can I experience more of that enjoyment, or experience that enjoyment more meaningfully?
  • What do I dislike about my nursing career? Are these obstacles things I can realistically strive to overcome, or should I search for a new role?
  • Does my dislike of something in my nursing career come from a lack of skills, experience or ways to deal with discomfort? How can I learn and apply strategies that will allow me to overcome adversity?

Nursing goals can give you clarity in reaching greater success and fulfilment in your career, but only when they’re relevant to what’s important to you.

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Break down your goal with careful planning

Once you’ve established a goal that will support you in finding or furthering the nursing career you want, you need to consider what smaller steps you’ll take in order to achieve it. A purposeful goal can’t be completed in just one step, and taking multiple, smaller steps towards changing something makes that change more long-lasting and rewarding.

Here are some ways you can plan out a larger goal to keep yourself on track:

  • Create a time-frame within which to achieve your goal. This could be a few weeks, a few months or even a few years;
  • Make your first steps towards your goal easier. For example, if you want to make 50 industry connections this year, start by strengthening a connection you already have, or by introducing yourself to someone you haven’t spoken to before;
  • Plan for obstacles to get in the way of your goal, such as time, money, energy or a lack of motivation. Applying for graduate programs in the midst of an all-nighter during exam season probably isn’t the best idea. Schedule another time to complete those applications so your goal isn’t affecting your other commitments;
  • Reward yourself for making progress, particularly in relation to the difficult parts of your goal. This could be buying yourself something special, treating yourself to a fun day out or taking the night off;
  • Review the plans you’ve made every now and again to make sure they’re still working for you. Our circumstances are constantly changing, so what worked for you even a month ago may not be relevant or useful today;
  • Consider why this goal is important to you, and remind yourself of this when you’re feeling dejected or unmotivated. It can be helpful to write this reason down so you can physically look at it to keep pushing forward.

For more tips on planning goals effectively, you can check out this guide on writing SMART goals.

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Stay realistic and stay kind

Now you have a carefully-planned goal to work towards, it can be tempting to race through the steps you’ve so meticulously organised and achieve your goal faster. However, throwing all your time and energy into fast-tracking your goal while motivation is high can actually make you more likely to burn out, leaving the goal unfinished with no desire to try again.

Remember that you’ve planned your goal out for a reason, and to be realistic about how motivated you are day to day. Trust that with sustained effort and energy, you’re much more likely to complete your goal without excessive stress or negativity. And if you take longer to achieve your goal than you hoped, or don’t get to complete it now, don’t be too hard on yourself. The process of working towards something is just as valuable as attaining it, and you can always have another shot when you’re ready.

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Find someone to motivate you

Having a goal is very beneficial for your professional and personal development, but working towards it can feel lonely. If those around you don’t share your experience or understand your efforts, it can be difficult to maintain the momentum you need for success. That’s why finding someone to motivate you and hold you accountable can be game-changing when it comes to goal-setting.Whether it’s a colleague, a manager, another nursing student or a loved one, having someone in your corner makes progress much easier. You’ll have someone to celebrate your successes with, share your worries and disappointments with and gain critical advice from at every step of the way. There are even organisations designed to support nurses and midwives, such as Nurse and Midwife Support in Australia.

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Your next steps

Having a nursing goal is only worthwhile if you’re able to put it into practice in your nursing career. Sometimes, the work we do as nurses can become repetitive or draining, which discourages us from implementing new skills, knowledge and strategies and challenging ourselves professionally. However, with the right employer that actively encourages the growth of its nurses, professional development can be much easier than it seems.

That’s where we come in.

At Healthcare HQ, we support all our nurses with industry training and placements that reflect their current skill-set and experience. We also place our nurses in areas that we know they can be appropriately challenged in order to foster their growth and improvement both professionally and personally. And with our leading reputation in the Sydney nursing space, we support a wide range of facilities in which all our nurses can thrive.

Ready to take the plunge into agency nursing that works for you? Get in touch with us today by sending an email or completing our online application form. If we’ve piqued your interest, but you want to learn more, you can read our other blog posts, visit our website and check out our Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is general in nature. For further support in relation to your individual circumstances, please get in touch with us or a relevant mentor.

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