In nursing school, we learned that goals should be S.M.A.R.T–Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. It’s important to have goals for our patients and their plan of care, but what about ourselves? If you think about what you want to achieve in your career, it can be overwhelming. That’s a long-term goal that doesn’t have a time-specific deadline. But if you make a list of “baby-steps” that you want to achieve, it’s much more attainable. For instance, instead of saying “In five years, I want to be a nurse manager of a clinic,” set a shorter goal time-frame like “I want to be a charge nurse in the next year,” or “Today I will work to develop my leadership skills at work.” These are shorter goals that will help you develop into the nurse who can be a great manager someday.

Having a mental “to-do” list is important when you get up every morning. It gives you a purpose to start the day. For instance, when you wake up, say to yourself or out loud, “It’s going to be a GREAT day!” Even if you don’t believe it, good things will usually happen. Don’t sleep in on your days off! Have a productive day that will lead to a better you, even if your goal is to cuddle on the couch with your sweetheart because you haven’t had “us” time in a while. Remember to find some time for the people in your life that support you.

Research shows that older people who set goals live longer as well. Published in the Journal of Psychological Science, the “Purpose in life as a predictor of mortality across adulthood (Hill & Turiano)” study concluded that having a purpose in life lowered the mortality risk in the older adult years. So, make sure to have a purpose each day and you may just live longer.


Hill, P.L. & Turiano, N.A. (May 8th, 2014) Psychological ScienceĀ Vol. 25, Issue 7, pp 1482-1486. doi: 10.1177/0956797614531799.