What's Your Why That Motivates You?

  1. We all have the same twenty-four hours a day, yet we each accomplish different tasks in this time. Some of us push ourselves to the limit to meet a specific goal, while others find contentment with what comes our way. Considering what motivated you to go to nursing school or to take that job might help you find happiness in your job, or to determine when it’s time to move on and to cope with changing roles.

    What's Your Why That Motivates You?

    Most of us have days when we must dig deep to maintain progress toward our goals. It could be dragging ourselves out of bed to get to work, finishing that endless report, or sticking with that diet and exercise program. If days like that become a roadblock, instead of an occasional bump in the road toward our destination, then perhaps it's time to reevaluate our motivation in choosing this job, seeking that degree, or working toward a personal goal.

    Some people might classify their drive as willpower, discipline, energy, or enthusiasm. No matter where you believe you derive this extra vigor, it's usually not sustainable long-term unless there's a focus on your intrinsic motivation. If the reason why is due to external rewards, or pressure, instead of internal motivation such as our values, purpose, beliefs or passion, it's often difficult to maintain ongoing productivity without depleting our enthusiasm.

    Changing Perspective

    Sometimes we discover that we've been doing something for so long that it's become a habit, an obligation, or a routine, and we forget why we wanted to do it in the first place. It's hard to find any joy in the process if something that we once enjoyed has become a burden that wears away at our happiness. It's kind of like that little black dress hanging in the closet to motivate us to diet and exercise. It might work for the short-term, as an extrinsic motivator, but having an intrinsic motivator such as better health, or having the energy to play with our children might be more effective long-term.

    Nurses go into the profession for a variety of individual reasons, and most aren't likely to state it's for the money. If that's the case, that extrinsic motivator might not be enough to stay with a position when the going gets tough, because there are always other ways to make money.

    A good time to slow down and consider why you do what you do might be when you're:

    • Struggling with a difficult nursing course or class
    • Deciding whether to stay at your job
    • Starting, or looking for, a new job
    • Considering a promotion
    • Feeling stuck in a rut
    • Retiring and wondering what you'll do with your time

    Many people thrive on moments when they're engaged in the zone and their productivity soars. Identifying the factors that get you there and determining what you want to do, versus what you have to do, can help you feel better about the challenging days, because you know your purpose for hanging in there.

    Don't Be Restricted by Definitions

    If you're considering changing your path, it might be more difficult to do so if you've enmeshed your identity with your position. When you consider leaving that position, or role, it can leave you feeling as if you're losing your sense of purpose, or direction, and cause you to cling tightly to what you have, rather than face what might be. If instead, you think of what you do, and yourself, as providing the overall contribution, it might help you realize your value. It might help to maintain confidence in yourself with a change and help you realize that many of your skills are transferable.

    Following what created your passion doesn't always mean leaving a position, but it may mean looking for other opportunities within the position to open yourself to new possibilities. The beauty of nurses is within our ability to utilize our knowledge in a variety of methods. To discover your intrinsic motivation, spend time reflecting through journaling, or talking with a friend, and consider what you gravitate toward when you have spare time, or when you were younger and had more time than obligations. Consider what pieces of your passion can be intertwined into your career if you enjoy:

    • Helping others- Consider mentoring other nurses to educate and inspire them to help you derive more satisfaction from your daily routine
    • Writing- Offer to help write policies, develop educational information, educate on documentation, or explore freelance writing for magazines or journals
    • Speaking- Attend networking events, volunteer to present for recruiting events, Podcasts, or for staff education
    • Reading- Read journals and other educational material, share new insights for implementation on your unit, or volunteer to read to patients

    Discovering Internal Motivation

    Many nurses shift their focus, or follow different paths during their career. If we spend more time with an awareness of why we started the journey, it might help to guide our direction, derive a little more joy out of the rough days, and help us nurture happiness and find success.


    How Do You Maintain Your Motivation?
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    About Maureen Bonatch MSN, BSN, RN

    Maureen Bonatch MSN, RN draws from years of experience in nursing administration, leadership and psychiatric nursing to write healthcare content. Her experience as a fiction author helps her to craft engaging and creative content. Learn more about her freelance writing at CharmedType.com and her fiction books at MaureenBonatch.com

    Joined: Mar '05; Posts: 52; Likes: 215
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    1 Comments

  3. by   traumaRUs
    Great article. It it important that we understand the why behind our behavior. This might be admirable behavior or it might not be so good for us.

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