Lower the bar.
If loving your job seems as likely as you getting back to your high school weight, it’s easy to not even give it a shot.
Why waste your time on a pipe dream?
But as fate would have it, there are a few stops between total despair, overwhelm, and hating your job and the reality of loving your job and being so glad you have it.
There is a middle ground, a LOT of middle ground.
Shooting for this middle ground is not only much more manageable of a goal, it is oftentimes such a significant change from baseline that being there can feel great. The return on the investment of your effort to get there is totally worth it.
Shooting for neutral can feel great.
So how do you even start? Of course there are strategies, strategies you can start right now, today.
1. Assess where you are starting from. This needs to be established before you can decide where you are going. Are you totally burnt-out? Really overwhelmed but not hating the job? Kind of depressed and feeling disillusioned?
Or maybe you aren’t really at that end of the spectrum yet. Maybe you are closer to the apathetic area or the “losing your empathy” area.
There isn’t a right or wrong place to be. This isn’t a good/bad spectrum. It’s just a map.
2. Set a middle ground destination. When I first started doing this work I was just trying to uplevel from frustrated to not frustrated. Loving the job wasn’t even on my radar, I just didn’t want to dread going to work and dealing with drama.
3. Once you know where you want to go, there are a lot of ways to get from where you are currently to the middle ground. Before moving on to these, it is crucial to do these first 2. Only trying to uplevel a little plants the belief in possibility. If you are only trying to go from burnt-out to overwhelmed or from overwhelmed to disillusioned, your brain can believe in the possibility of this. This belief is what opens the door to problem solving and willingness to try.
Now that you know where you are, where you want to go, and have the belief in the possibility of that small uplevel, there are countless strategies to get you there. The good news is that it doesn’t TAKE a lot of strategies, just one or two will get you started.
The first option is to try acknowledgement. This is a little different (and easier) than gratitude. While gratitude is a known contributor to happiness and life satisfaction, sometimes even feeling grateful seems like too much of a stretch.
Enter the strategy of acknowledgment. Can you acknowledge the things at work or about work that make it easier for you to do your job or makes your experience of work better? You don’t have to feel gushingly great about them, just take a minute to acknowledge them. Here are some ideas to show you what this entails.
I don’t have to do the schedule for the day.
I do get to do my own schedule.
(Either could make your job easier depending on your perspective)
My medical assistant works with me regularly so she knows what I need.
The medications are pre-entered in the chart.
I don’t have meetings to go to every day.
I have many patients that I see routinely so I don’t have to start from scratch each time.
I have new patients that keep me interested.
I can pull up my last note without searching for a physical chart (Searching for charts was the WORST).
I have a water cooler near my office so I can stay hydrated without leaving the area.
Patient messages get sent to me in their charts so I can just respond to the call center easily.
My commute is straightforward.
There are computers in every room.
My schedule works for me.
My NP colleague is really great and I can count on her to cover me when I am out.
I get to see most of my patients in person now (I find this easier than telehealth).
Telehealth bridges the gap in care if patients can’t come in.
Since covid, I have a space now that I can close the door and concentrate to do my notes instead of doing them in a common area/ nurses station.
I don’t think about these things every day but it doesn’t make them less helpful.
What parts of your day can you acknowledge? Are you willing to try it if it will help you slide over a little on the work experience spectrum?
The second strategy (if you need a second one) is to remind yourself why you are there and focus on doing 1-3 things per day that directly relate to that reason. While you probably do many things that relate to your WHY, when you are in a funk it is hard to sometimes see all of the things. This can lead to feeling unfulfilled.
I have never met a nurse who didn’t go into nursing in order to help people. There may be variations of how this is phrased but it boils down to care.
If you are there to care for people, can you find one thing today that you did to provide care? To decrease suffering? To educate? To explain? To listen? To improve outcomes? To comfort? To challenge? To promote self-efficacy? To care?
You are there to care.
You are doing that.
The drama and distractions at work do not make that less true.
Find the evidence for yourself. Send yourself a text with the 1-3 things that you did today that fulfilled your role of caring. At the end of the week, read all the texts.
If you start with just these 2 strategies, getting to the middle ground is guaranteed.
And from there, the possibilities are endless.
WAIT! BEFORE YOU GO! Do you feel like you have lost your empathy? I have an on-demand workshop that addresses exactly this. Come on over to my website and get the webinar sent directly to your inbox by clicking on the popup. It is only about 40minutes in length and can get you feeling hopeful and more fulfilled right away. It’s another strategy to get you moving toward the middle ground and beyond.