What Floats Your Boat?

Nurses are great complainers. We just are, and it’s OK. Complaining is almost part of our job description, but how often do you talk about what you love about nursing?

Nursing is hard work. I’ve said it a thousand times, and I’ll probably say it a thousand more. There are long hours, difficult patients, challenging coworkers, mountains of paperwork, and too many things to do in too little time. There’s no getting around that it’s a hard job. But hey, somebody has to do it, right?

So, What’s Working?

As already mentioned above, there’s a lot to say about how hard a job nursing is. We can wax poetic about the bad things until the cows come home. That’s the reality.

But what do you love about nursing? What keeps you coming back every day? What feeds your spirit and makes you glad to be a nurse? If you’re burned out, you’d probably tell me that it’s only the paycheck that keeps you punching the clock. (And if that’s the case, find a coach or therapist and get down to business to reboot your career before it’s too late!)

But if you’re a nurse who agrees that the job is hard but also loves what you do, it’s a great practice to recognize the things you love, even as you also acknowledge the difficult realities at the same time.

So, what is it that brought you to nursing? Is that element still present for you? Do you love patient care? Do you love elderly patients, pediatrics or working with women? Are there things about your job that make you smile? Do patients or their families thank you for your hard work? Do you have colleagues who support you and treat you with kindness and respect? Aside from the paycheck, what makes you come back day after day? What’s going right?

It’s Not About Denial

This isn’t about denial. There are always things that don’t float our boat at work. Maybe you have an unsupportive manager or a coworker who makes your life miserable. Maybe the administration at your workplace is less than stellar. Or maybe your patient load is higher than you’d like and your pay is too low. I acknowledge that these are all valid reasons to be unhappy, and you have every right to complain and want things to be better.

At the same time, we also need to examine our work for the good things, the things that are still okay. It’s easy to focus on the negative, but that negative focus can weigh us down and wear us out. There has to be a balance, otherwise our risk of burnout is astronomical.

Let’s not deny the bad things, but let’s also remind ourselves of what’s good. It’s not denial. It’s reality.

Counting Our Blessings and Asking For Change

I can complain along with the best of them, but I also like to be sure to remember what I love about my work. I could list twenty complaints about my workplace and bosses right now—but I won’t. I know what those things are and it won’t help me to enumerate them here for you.

As I count my blessings and remind myself of what’s working and what’s going right, it gives me a positive frame of reference in which to advocate for change. Sure, things could be better, but if I also remain aware of what’s going well, then I can balance my negativity and desire for something better with my gratitude for what is.

A dose of reality can be helpful, especially when trying to balance the light and the dark, the good and the bad.

What’s going right for you today?


About Keith

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Keith Carlson is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist.

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. Keith can be found on many social media platforms, as well as at NurseKeith.com.