Nurse Keith: Three Steps to Career Inspiration in the New Year

Nurse Keith: Three Steps to Career Inspiration in the New Year

When the current year comes to an end and the New Year begins, a golden opportunity arises to assess the current state of your nursing career. How you approach the next twelve months of your professional life is up to you, and the days after the holiday season are the perfect time for assessment, planning, and action.

Step one: Assess the current reality

The first step in the nursing process is assessment, and there’s no better place to begin when it comes to creating a plan of action for the New Year.

In assessing the current iteration of your career, an important question to ask is whether you feel satisfied with where you are. If you’re feeling overall contentment, perhaps the status quo is what you want; however, for most of us who desire professional growth, there’s usually something more we want to achieve.

By writing down your responses to simple, open-ended questions, you can begin the process of assessment and discovery. Ask yourself these and other related questions:

  • How happy am I with the current state of my nursing career?
  • What professional accomplishment would I like to achieve in the next twelve months?
  • Where would I like to be one year from now?
  • How does the current iteration of my career serve my larger goals?

As you dig deeper into your innermost desires for your nursing career, you may reveal some career-oriented longings that could be difficult to deny.

Step two: Plan a course of action

Once you’ve identified your general level of contentment and several of your professional aspirations, it’s time to formulate a plan. The following questions may help you get started:

  • What actions can I take this year in honor of my long-term career vision?
  • What are the most efficient steps that will move me forward?
  • Who can I turn to for wise counsel?
  • What plan of action can serve my short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals?

Taking real forward steps helps us fight against stagnation in our nursing careers. Whether it’s enrolling in a BSN or MSN program, studying for a certification exam, or requesting an informational interview with an influential nurse leader, taking inspired action sends a signal that we’re serious about cultivating an inspired future.

Step three: Take inspired action

Inspired action is where the rubber meets the road. If you really want that BSN, then registering for an online program is an inspired step that moves you in a positive direction. If you want a promotion and more responsibility, an informational interview with a nurse who holds a similar position may give you salient data for the path ahead.

Action tells your heart and mind that things are moving forward; if we take even one small step, this may be enough to bring us the energy we need to realize that the next step is just ahead.

Assessment and action move us forward

When we’re feeling stagnant in our careers, there’s nothing more inspiring than action. Professional stagnation arises from uncertainty or fear about our future, and action can turn uncertainty and fear around.

Move forward into the New Year with thoughtful assessment and confident steps in the direction of your goals, and be sure to reassess and evaluate your progress every step of the way.

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist for 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. He can be found at

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