Clinical days are the hardest mornings for me. The alarm goes off and somehow it gets incorporated into whatever dream I am having. The piano that giraffe was playing (on a row boat, no less) is now serenading me with the loud and upbeat tune I set the night before. I am exhausted from a full day of lectures, simulation lab and studying. Now today I have a 10 hour clinical day. Oh, yeah, and it’s currently 0300.
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar
Days like these are inevitable. All nursing students go through them. But although they are tough, with a little intentionality we can keep our spirits up and our motivation enduring.
1. Set realistic goals. Set small, very reachable goals that add up to your bigger goal. Don’t focus on the large goal right away, stick with accomplishing the smaller ones one at a time. By reaching these smaller goals, you gain confidence that snowball your motivation. The more you succeed, the harder you want to work.
2. Get enough sleep, eat healthy and exercise. We all know that exercise helps keep you energized and sleep better at night, which helps you fight burnout and stay motivated. Schedule your sleep and exercise time and protect it. Don’t let lesser priorities fill that space. Also, try scheduling your meals one week in advance. That way you always know there is good food in the fridge for those long study sessions, keeping you mind fueled.
3. Take time out for yourself. Motivation declines quickly when we run ourselves ragged. A short walk, a date night with your spouse, or a trip to the playground with your kids may be just what you need to continue that extended study session with a clear head.
4. Switch up your routine. Schedule activities at varying days and times. Maybe you spend a few hours in the simulation lab on Monday morning and study for lecture in the afternoon. Then on Tuesday you can study for lecture in the morning and complete clinical assignments in the afternoon. Changing up your routine will allow your brain to rest from each activity, while still being efficient with the other tasks you need to get done, preventing burnout.
5. Remind yourself why you want to be a nurse in the first place. Was it to provide a better future for your family? To save lives? To make a difference? Make a list of your top 10 reasons for becoming a nurse and keep it in the front of your notebook so you can reference it as you study. Even better, create a vision board of pictures that represent your ideal future and hang it in a prominent place. You won’t be able to look at it without smiling!
Motivation is hard to come by sometimes. The more burned out you become, the harder it is to get back on your feet to keep fighting. But thankfully, the more confidence, achievement and health you attain, the easier it becomes to stay motivated.
I challenge you to apply one of these activities every day for one week and watch your motivation be transformed.
Let me know how it goes in the comments below.
Good luck, and keep on keepin’ on!