Monday, January 02, 2023

Your Nursing Career: Intentions and Positive Change

When the New Year begins in earnest, many of us nurses start to consider what we'd like to accomplish in our personal lives and nursing careers. We can run around like chickens afraid that the sky is falling all around us, or we can set our intentions and plan for an inspired year.

Hindsight Can Serve You

Hindsight is sometimes said to be 20/20, and I believe that this is actually a very good thing. Looking back on our accomplishments (or lack thereof) in the previous year, we can accumulate a great deal of data when it comes to making prudent choices for the new year.

As you assess last year in terms of your career trajectory, ask yourself the following questions:
  • How do I feel about the way in which my career developed last year? 
  • What kinds of career-related choices did I make? 
  • If I felt stuck last year, what was it that made me feel that way? 
  • If I moved forward last year, what were the choices that really worked for me? 
Looking back at the previous year will directly inform how you approach the twelve months ahead of you and your nursing career.

Don't Forget Foresight

We need to make career choices that are prudent and thoughtful; if our intentions are clear, we can choose more wisely. We don't want to take a certification course or enroll in a master's degree program just because someone said we should; rather, we need to assess what we want and select the most intelligent, affordable, and efficient path to reach our goal.

Career choices need to emerge from due diligence, the collection of data, the honoring of your intuition, and the assessment of how to identify the most powerful vehicle for the journey ahead. Some forms of assessment may include:
  • Informational interviews with influencers and knowledgeable professionals
  • Web-based research on specialties, schools, certifications, etc
  • Plumbing of your own desires and aspirations
  • Online and in-person networking
  • Engaging with a life or career coach
  • Podcasts, blogs, articles, journals
There are, of course, other ways to find the information you need in order to make an informed decision; be creative and open-minded.

The Power of Insight

Insight emerges from the crucible created by hindsight and foresight. An insight may come in a flash of intuition, or it may come to light during an informational interview. We don't know where insight will come from, but the power of a strong realization can be enormously impactful on your nursing career.

Listening to a podcast, a thought may emerge that leads you down another unknown path of discovery. While you're reading a blog post or article, a particular link or recommendation could be the key you've been seeking. And sometimes, insights are born from hard work and tedious research.

Intention is Key

If your intention is to become a flight nurse, then your path forward will be clear. If your intention is to "quit this stupid job," you have more work to do to get there. And if you just know there's something you need but can't figure out what it is, that's a row that's more tedious to sew (but altogether possible).

Focus on your intentions, motivations, and short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals; once these become more clear, the path ahead will more readily make itself known.


Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is a Board Certified Nurse Coach offering holistic career development for nurses and healthcare professionals. All things Nurse Keith can be found at

Keith is the host of The Nurse Keith Show, his solo podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. From 2012 until its sunset in 2017, Keith co-hosted RNFMRadio, a groundbreaking nursing podcast.

A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century and Aspire to be Inspired: Creating a Nursing Career That Matters. He has contributed chapters to a number of books related to the  nursing profession. written for,, MultiBriefs News Service, LPNtoBSNOnline, StaffGarden, AusMed, American Sentinel University,, Diabetes Lifestyle, the ANA blog,, American Nurse Today, Working Nurse Magazine, and other online and print publications.

Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, keynote speaker, online nurse personality, social media influencer, podcaster, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known nurse entrepreneur. 

Living in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico, Keith shares a magical life with his partner, Shada McKenzie, a gifted, empathic, and highly skilled traditional astrologer and reader of the tarot.

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