Tough circumstances give us two choices. We can get bitter and quit. Or we can stand up and fight. When we choose to stand and fight it does not guarantee that there won’t be moments of weakness, moments that we stumble and fall or make a wrong turn. But in these fragile moments, we can choose to stand up and keep going, wiser, more focused and better equipped for the path ahead.
I have experienced many good things and positive blessings in my life, for which I am very grateful. But I also have faced many challenges including health crisis, family crisis and financial crisis. Inevitably, I have made mistakes, faced discouragement and basically “face planted” while trying to fix things. I am still working my way through some pretty major obstacles. Sometimes there are moments I just wonder if I can keep going, and keep breathing. Then I remember my choices.
I choose to get up, stand tall and focus on my “Whys.” Then I refocus, and redirect if needed. And I get busy working my plan toward achieving my goals.
These are some things that help me as I overcome my weaknesses and move toward the goals I have set for myself.
First, I BELIEVE that great things are possible.
B e true to myself
E xcellence in all I do
L isten and understand
I magine great things
E ffectiveness and Efficiency = Productivity
V ictory in small things
E njoy the journey
Being true to myself means to know who God made me to be. To know His purpose for me on this earth, and to know my “WHY” for doing what I do. I must know myself, my tendency toward weaknesses, and my motivating factors. I learned a term in my business studies called Locus of Control. There is internal Locus of Control, and external Locus of Control. I have internal Locus of Control, meaning that I believe that I do have control over events that influence my life. It means that I take ownership in the decisions I make, and for the good and bad outcomes from those decisions. While I know I have made some bad decisions that have led to many of the challenges in my life, I choose to let my negative experiences teach me without dictating my future. I believe in forgiveness and that we all can have the power to change the course of our lives. Personally, to gain this power I must identify motivating factors that overshadow my greatest deterrent or fear.
When I feel like I am getting overwhelmed, stressed out, or realize I have not made a good decision because of ill reaction to my stress, I take time to stop and remember my WHY. I write out my internal motivating factors, and my external motivating factors. I stop and identify what I have done to get off track, and if that is the case, I make some plan modifications. Otherwise, I will launch PANIC MODE and I never make good decisions in panic mode!
When my goal is clear, and my path sure, I must focus on my goal and not on my fear or the distractions that can so easily deter me. A motorcyclist who looks at a “wipeout zone” on a hazardous curvy mountain road will end up crashing right into the crevice he or she fears. But the motorcyclist who looks ahead at the bend where he or she is headed will stay on the path. It all has to do with how the head is turned.
I do believe that we don’t fail till we give up… I’ve said it to my children many times. But I also know that my goals must be obtainable. We should not set ourselves up for failure, especially where the field of nursing is concerned. I am an “all-in” person, meaning I give myself wholeheartedly to my venture. But I have had to learn my limitations so that I plan what I know is achievable for me. I want to set myself up for success. It is the concept of being strong and anti-fragile and gaining strength through adversity. For example: I wanted to believe that I could handle 17 credit hours of heavy-duty classes while caring for four young children and going through family stress. I quickly realized that that was not only impossible for me to do with excellence, I would quickly end up with my health and all my life accounts in the “red.” It is better to go at a pace in life where incremental victories add up to big success rather than trying to be super-human for a short while without being able to finish the journey. This is especially true in the demanding field of nursing. The grades required to gain entrance to nursing programs, and to maintain good standing in the programs demand thoughtful planning, intense effort and an anti-fragile state of mind.
Efficiency is being able to accomplish more with less effort. Effectiveness is the ability to meet a desired goal. Together, I believe they produce productivity. There are some specific tools that I feel help me to achieve- or attempt to achieve- productivity. The first is the concept of planning ahead and time-chunking rather than sporadic multi-tasking. Time chunking study time, family time, chore time and rest time not only gives the brain breaks, it helps me to accomplish a laundry list of to do items. Things still do get backed up, but the priorities get done. The only time I find multi-tasking to be beneficial is when I am working with my hands in an automated fashion and it does not require coordination of my mental and physical capabilities. One such example is studying notecards to memorize concepts while I am doing dishes, cleaning or folding laundry. I also take notecards with study material in my purse so that if I am waiting for the kids, stopped at a fast food line, etc. I can take a quick peek at a concept. Multi-tasking does not work however, when trying to study simultaneously while making phone calls, watching TV or solving a kid problem. Scheduling time for each task and getting in front of emergencies before they arise is always more productive. Trust me, I know. Poor planning led me to proof-read papers while trying to deal with my impatient 2-year-old, which ended up in a flooded, shorted out laptop keyboard. I was panicked and my son upset while I was trying to save valuable school work. I could have avoided the whole incident with much better time chunking and foresight – some time for him and some for the papers.
Networking and tapping into resources also increases productivity. Sharing strengths with others who have different strengths while working towards a common goal builds a strong team. This works with class mates, other parents, the workplace and community. Pulling together lightens the load and makes the journey more bearable… even fun! I always ask questions, communicate with my professors and anyone else who is a valuable resource of information. I am not afraid of getting something wrong or being a little embarrassed during the learning phase. I would much rather fully understand concepts and be confident that when I enter nursing practice I am fully prepared and capable of handling any critical situation that arises. I want to be a truly exceptional nurse, so I am willing to make sacrifices in the present for that goal.
I am so grateful for those who have invested in me, for my family who supports me and the fact that I have four beautiful blessings at home who keep me motivated. Seeing my children delight in simple things makes me realize that it is not only about the destination, but also about the journey. So every step of the way I try to remember to laugh and to love.
Just to recap, believe great things are possible. Discover, then hold on to your WHY. Make an obtainable plan, then focus only on the road ahead and not the things you fear. Remain calm as you work out your plan, step by step one day at a time in practical, productive ways. If you trip up or get disappointed, stand back up, regroup and keep going. Be willing to give up temporary comforts for future gains. Make the tough decisions with confidence that in the end, it will pay off. And last but not least, don’t forget to smell the roses, cheer the small victories and be grateful for the blessings in life!