From time-to-time, most people will get the feeling their career has drifted somewhat, and they are now heading in a direction they aren’t happy with, or that bores them.
Nurses are no different, and no matter how much they might love their job or feel that it’s a calling, ‘missing drift’ can still be problematic. The good news is, there are things that can be done to combat this feeling, which means all their hard work won’t have been for anything and they can continue working as nurses for as long as they want to, with their careers back on track.
Nurses choose this particular career for a number of reasons and will be excited to get to work after completing their online nursing programmes and gaining their qualifications. Sometimes the reason someone chooses to be a nurse is that it will pay the bills and that there is money for the household.
Others choose to do it because it’s a dream they’ve always had, and they are finally able to see it come true. Others might not know why they want to be nurses, but over time it becomes clearer, and the more experience they gain the more they realise what it really means to be a nurse. Career drift can affect you whatever your reason for being a nurse actually was, even if it was a lifelong dream.
Career drift is influenced by a wide variety of different situations and circumstances in life. Our professional lives can’t help but be influenced in some way by our personal lives, even if we do try to compartmentalise as much as possible. This is especially true when something unforeseen happens and we weren’t prepared for it.
This can affect everything we do, and it can cause mission drift for nurses. The fact that nursing is such an emotional job adds to these intense feelings and can make mission drift even worse.
Knowing where it went wrong
Before you can put your career back on course, you need to know where it went wrong, and where mission drift began. Think back to your studies for your online nursing programs. Were you happy then? Did you know this was what you wanted to do and be? If so, you made the right choice, to begin with, but something must have happened later on to change your mind or at least make you wonder.
It won’t necessarily be easy to spot when your career ideals started to change, not unless there was one major event in your life that caused you to question everything you were doing. However, it is crucial to try to determine just what happened, as this will make it easier to fix things, assuming you want them to be fixed. Remember, sometimes mission drift isn’t about looking back and putting things right. Sometimes it’s about looking forward, and if nursing is no longer for you, you do need to be honest with yourself about this. It’s nothing to be ashamed of as people change their minds and in order to be happy, you sometimes do need to go with what you feel is best.
So what was the reason you took your online nursing programmes studies and tests in the first place? This is a great place to start when determining the reasons for career drift. If you know why you chose to do what you’re doing, this will help you to focus once more, assuming nothing has changed and your reasons are the same.
When you have remembered just what it was that told you nursing was the right thing for you to do when you began your studies and your work, you can then look at the career you have had up until this point. What choices did you make throughout your working life that might have led you to feel the way you do now? Were you always able to find great working environments with people you enjoyed being with? Did the work you do always stimulate you mentally? Did you ever consider you might have made a mistake and wish you had made a different decision when you had the chance? If you did make a change regarding your branch of nursing, what was it that prompted that change, and have those ideas and priorities changed now?
Answering these questions in the most honest way possible will enable you to uncover where your mission drift may have started, and it could be as simple as going back to a nursing position you were happy in before. It could also mean picking a different speciality now, because you’re not entirely happy with what you’re doing, even though you know you do still want to be in the nursing field.
Something that you wouldn’t have even thought about when you began searching out the ideal online nursing programmes for your studies is that people do change over time. What was important once might not be after a few years. This is perfectly normal and it is nothing to be worried about.
As we grow older, what we want out of life can become entirely different from what we thought we wanted when we were younger, and that can include your career. Even if you have studied hard and have been working in a particular career, such as nursing, for a long time, there is no reason why, one day, you might realise there is something else you want to do.
The fact that some other career has caught your attention is telling in itself. If you were entirely happy with what you were doing now, you wouldn’t even have noticed there were other possibilities for you. If you have noticed them and you are interested in finding out more, don’t hesitate to do so. There is no point in staying in a job that is no longer fulfilling when there is something else out there that could take its place.
It could even be simpler than this. Your personal life might have changed in such a way that nursing is no longer practical, and you have to find something else to do, and this very idea can cause mission drift by itself. Just some of the changes that might have occurred include:
- Having children
- Losing a loved one
- Needing to take care of a sick/elderly/disabled friend or family member
- Becoming ill or disabled yourself
- Getting married or divorced
All of these things, and many more, can certainly change the way you feel about your work, and even if it is still a practical thing to do, if your feelings about it have changed since you first undertook studies for your online nursing programmes, you should seriously consider finding out what else you could do. After all, we spend so much of our lives at work, it has to be something that makes us happy, otherwise, our lives will be miserable ones when there is no need for them to be.
Whatever has happened and however you feel, the good news is that, if you want to, you can put your career back where it should be and continue, or even progress, however, you want to. In other words, career drift, or career fatigue, can be overcome.
Creating Your Future
Once you know what it was that changed things from your online nursing programmes until now, you are well on your way to fixing the problem. You can’t do anything until you know what the problem is, so identifying that has to be the first step. You can now take this information and formulate a plan to give you the future you deserve and can look forward to.
Once you do know this, the best thing to do to get over career drift is to work out exactly where you want to be in the future. If you don’t or can’t do this, you will continue to drift because you don’t know what direction you’re meant to be heading in. Understanding in the clearest way what your desires and motivations really are will help you to focus on a definite future, one that you can aim for and that is actionable.
Some people who are having trouble working out what it is they really want out of life choose to speak to a life coach about it. They feel happy to talk to a professional who is able to get all the information from them and put that information into some kind of plan, or at least help them to look in the right direction. Others will want to talk to family and friends and put forward their ideas and see what the response is. Others still would prefer to do this alone; it is their life and they need to be the one to determine where it is going.
You need to do what is right for you and although it can take a while to work out just what this is, once you have, making decisions will become much easier, your mission drift will decrease, and you will be much happier overall.
One of the biggest reasons for mission drift for nurses is that what they are doing doesn’t quite live up to their expectations. When studying for online nursing programmes, student nurses will have had some idea of what nursing would be like, and how they would want to go about being the best nurse they could possibly be. This is natural and laudable, but expectations, especially ones that have been created over a long period of time, perhaps even from childhood, and reality doesn’t always match up.
In this case, you will have a choice to make. If what you’re doing doesn’t match your expectations, you will either need to change those expectations or change what you are doing. If you enjoy your work, then changing your expectations is going to be the best option. This might sound impossible, but it can definitely be done. All you need to do is look at the things you really do enjoy in your work and find out what brings you the most joy. Once you know this, you can shift your expectations, knowing the good (and bad) parts of the nursing job you are doing. Once everything matches up you can continue on your career path. If you still feel uncomfortable or unhappy, then perhaps your heart actually lies in another profession, and you need to be true to yourself about what that is.
The future has a way of creeping up on you, and before you know it your ideas and ideals have changed entirely, even if, all that time ago when you were excitedly searching out the best online nursing programmes, you never thought they would.
Putting Your Mission Back on Course
Once you know what the issue is and why you fell off your path, whatever your reasons for taking your online nursing programmes and beginning your journey might be, you can get back to where you want to be. This could still be in nursing doing what you were doing before (but with a clearer goal in mind), a different branch of nursing (which you may need to gain additional qualifications for, and this is an excellent goal in itself), or something else altogether.
How you feel when you are entirely honest with yourself might surprise you, but it has to be done and understood if you are going to correct your mission drift, and this is true even if your mission has changed to something completely unrecognisable.
It won’t be easy to stop, step back, and truly assess what you are doing through objective eyes, but if you aren’t feeling satisfied in your job and you aren’t working your hardest because of that, it may be time to move on in some way. However, if you feel that you can make the changes you need to make to continue and put your career back on track, this could be the answer. You have to do what is right for you.