1. Randall, Lorraine RN,C


Learn how to focus your goals, package yourself, and make good choices.


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DO YOU KNOW people who just can't wait to get to work each day? People who truly love their work have taken steps to figure out what's important to them. They have a clear sense of their values and sought work that reflects their sense of integrity, purpose, and passion. You can find that success too by following three steps explained below.


But first, I'd like to say that the word "job" makes me cringe. It conjures an image of a tedious, mindless task that's done strictly to make ends meet. I prefer to replace "job" with "passion." To know your passion, you must know yourself and what you want out of life. Defining your passion is difficult, but it's the vital first step to finding your "perfect passion."


Step 1: Focus your passion: Your personal and professional goals.

What kind of career or position interests you? If you're unsure, consider career counseling, which may be enlightening.


What are your career goals? Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years? What are your economic goals? Be reasonable, but don't undersell yourself. What are your lifestyle goals? What types of personal activities are important to you, and how much time do you need to pursue them? Are you willing to relocate?


Make a list of your goals and prioritize them, beginning with the most important personal or professional goals (depending on which matters more to you). Then look for the position that will best help you attain them. Read the want ads online and in print journals to see what's out there and talk with other nurses to see what they're doing.


Step 2: Package yourself.

Packaging is all about preparation, research, and learning how you can best present yourself. It means identifying the strengths and skills that will help you succeed on your chosen career path and targeting the areas you need to expand or improve.


Here's an example: Let's say you've searched your soul and discovered that you want to be a pediatric nurse practitioner (NP). You have your RN license and have cared for many children in the medical/surgical unit where you've worked for 10 years. You have strong clinical skills and love caring for children. But to become a pediatric NP, you'll need to return to school to get your master's degree, then take your certification exam. Ask yourself if you're dedicated enough and have the stamina for this long journey. Think about it carefully. Try your chosen career path on for size by working in the field before embarking on a long road of preparation. For example, consider moving to a hospital with a pediatrics unit and work there for a year or two to see if you like it. You need time and patience to make such a life-altering change.


Finally, conduct a thorough personal assessment. Reflect on and understand your faults, weaknesses, and attributes. Make yourself a work in progress as you change and improve what you can.


Step 3: Make good choices.

The third step begins when an employer offers you the position of your dreams. Before leaping ecstatically into the fray, take your time and weigh all of the pros and cons to determine if it's right for you. Go back to your list of goals and use insight and intellect, not emotion, to decide what to do.


If you say yes, expect to go through a honeymoon period (or a tough one) followed by a reality check. That's perfectly normal, so don't despair. Remember that this is your dream and that you worked hard to get here and give yourself time to adjust.


What happens if your dream job turns into a nightmare? Depart graciously because you never know who you'll meet again in life. Maintain your professionalism and consider your time in the position as valuable experience.


Don't take your misfortune to heart. The average person is employed in 9.6 jobs over her lifetime, according to a 2002 U.S. Department of Labor report. So move on because somewhere out there is the perfect passion for you.