We often speak of our personal and professionals lives as if they are subsumed; in ways, they are because each of us given but one life to life. And, in order to make the most of that life, we need to maintain work/life balance…a barometer for well being…
I have found that the best way to begin is by keeping it simple, and keeping it simple is indeed a voluntary process and well within your realm. T. S. Eliot wrote, “Finding a way to live the simple life is one of life’s supreme complications.” Each of us, at one time or another, has felt overwhelmed. We hesitate to take a holiday because when we return, the paperwork will be piled sky-high. We hesitate to attend a professional development program because when we return, our development will be stifled by his amount of work that has been generated during our absence. The sheer complexity of our lives creates internal distress and can wreak havoc on our bodies. Dis-tress is a contributor to dis-ease, and we know what they can do to our minds as well as to our bodies. The cardiac system is over-stimulated, the immune system is suppressed, and our hormones are out of balance,
Complexity is addictive, and we cannot always find a way out. I know because I’ve been there. As a multi-tasker, I enjoy doing multiple things at the same time. I enjoy the challenge of the delicate balance between reasonable levels of work and overload. My life is now simplified compared to how it was between 1992 and 2004 when I worked about 100 hours per week and traveled monthly to countries in Eastern Europe. Now, with a 40 plus hour work week that is self-imposed, I feel as if I have simplified dramatically. I have the time that I need to work, write, teach, be with family, and give back to society. When I was first introduced to the concept of work/life balance in 2002, I realized that I needed radical change in my own life if I was to walk the talk. I understood what a positive impact simplification could have on my work, my family, and my health…and I set out on a mission to simply my own life.
For me, this required a huge paradigm shift. Think back to your own childhood. My dad was a contractor, so we had lots of bathrooms in our home, and even with 5 kids sharing bedrooms, we did not have to share a bath. My best friend’s family consisted of mom and dad, plus two teenage girls. They had a 4 bedroom home with only one bathroom, and there were constant battles to see who got to use the bathroom first. If someone had a date, or required additional prep time, the coveted space could be tied up for quite some time. One thing that we did lack was closet space, and most hanging space seemed to come from freestanding dressers with closet rods. When I think of how our own kids have grown up, with private rooms most of the time, luxury kitchens, wonderful yards, a phone in every room and more…I wonder how we existed. When our daughters ask me how we existed without something as simple as pantyhose, I smile and think back of the days of nursing school with garter belts and hose.
And then, I think about today’s young people with computers in every room, DVD, HDTV, cellular phones, IPOD and more. I think about the luxuries that they consider necessities and how complicated their lives are with so many gadgets. I think of our own PDAs and blackberries, and how simple our own lives would be without such devices.
Do we truly clutter our lives with far too many things? In my travels to less developed countries, I witnessed firsthand how simple things could be. Immediately following the earthquake in Yerevan, Armenia, the only decent housing was found in a former government hotel. Although there was neither heat nor hot water, there was a roof over my head and a clean bed. While there was not food in the hospital, our hosts found moldy bread to eat, and we ate it repeatedly for weeks – sometimes with cheese or tomato sauce – but always with an appreciation for what we had. Although it was impossible to get hot water in a tub, it was possible to use an electric coil to warm some water and use it to rinse the shampoo out of one’s hair. And, although our colleagues lacked so much…they had a refinement of spirit and a passion for their work that was unsurpassed. They lived the simple life…nearly a sparse life…but a life of gratitude.
I always thought that I had a strong work ethic – I worked until, and beyond the time that a job was done. One of my supervisors once paid me the ultimate compliment when he said, “You’re my only finisher.” I attributed that to the fact that most of our staff was fresh out of university, and that as someone who had been working since age 14, I was accustomed to giving 100% plus. I always believed that anything worth doing was worth doing well.
When I hosted delegations here, I always hoped that they would take back the good things that they could learn and not imitate our mistakes. My colleagues marveled at my ability to juggle schedules, to consistently be tied to a phone as if it were an appendage, and to be on top of 30 projects simultaneously. What I mistook for admiration and respect might well have been sorrow – for the good times that I missed, for the family occasions that I skipped, for downtime. Although they worked long hours in less than ideal circumstances in their own countries, they led the simple life…they understood the need for simple pleasures.
A personal choice
Simplifying one’s life is a personal choice as well as a process. To start, examine all areas of your life and determine at least five that can be simplified. For example, in the housing market crunch, my home was for sale for more than one year. That meant that each and every day, the beds had to be made, the dishwasher filled, the laundry put away, the countertops clean. That meant fresh flowers in the kitchen and bathrooms and a decluttered environment. How does someone juggling multiple tasks declutter an environment – clear a desk in a home-based office? It is difficult…yet possible.
As a nursing student in a diploma school, we were often short-staffed. There may have been 40 patients on a ward with only a registered nurse, a student, and an aide. We all know that medications and treatments take priority, and we adjusted our time accordingly. If there was insufficient time for a full bath, we gave sponge baths or washed face, hands and bottoms. After all, no one ever died of dirt – they died of not having treatments done or not getting their medications. We simplified, and while we may not have been proud of the process, the outcomes were good.
So, think of five things in your own life, and then begin your process! Eat simpler foods, but eat as a family. Drop membership on a committee to free your time. Clear out the clutter in your life to make it easier to find things. Put things in their place. Do the laundry every other day, and straighten up – but do not clean up every day. Turn off the TV and spend TV time with the family.
Have you ever thought that something was wrong, and you could not quite pinpoint what it was? Have you ever assessed a patient and ‘felt’ that something was array. What about that sixth sense that we, as caregivers, all have and could use more often?
You are probably familiar with television game shows in which the participant is stumped on a question and gets the chance to phone a friend. That friend may be brother, coach, boss, or friend. But, the friend delivers!
Now the same is true of nursing assessment. The wait is over, and the ‘friend’ or form of technical support has arrived. The time is now to put that suspicion to rest and to celebrate our ability to master nursing assessment, with the help of a friend. That friend is the Rothman Index (RI), a system that can translate our assessments into visual data.
How is that possible? Well, simply put, the RI takes 12 areas of your own nursing assessment and streamlines your process, your day, your productivity, and your efficiency. The RI is your early warning system for more effective clinical decision support! It is nursing’s sixth sense, and we all need it.
Long shifts, long days, long weeks and multiple responsibilities pull you in multiple directions! So much to do and so little time.
Is all this a cliché or is it reality? In today’s healthcare environment, it certainly seems that it is indeed our reality – a reality of the times in which we live and our expansive scope of practice.
Nursing, more than ever before, is a challenge. And nowhere is this more obvious than in the way in which nurses care for themselves. Caring for caregivers is a common theme. How can nurses care for others when they have no time to care for themselves? How can nurses continue to be the best they can possibly be to family, patients, employers and others pulling them in multiple directions?
Balancing work and personal life can be a challenging task in the current American cultural climate. As nurses, we work more hours, have less time for ourselves, and we face a sense of urgency on a daily basis.
A nurse colleague recently stated, “I need help managing my time. I am currently studying for the NCLEX-RN. I am married and have a 4-year-old son. I am feeling like I need to study for my exam every waking minute, but I still have to clean house, cook dinner, watch my son, and spend time with my husband. Plus, I need to exercise and I attend church services twice a week. I would like to know from those who may have a similar situation – how can you do it all?”
Sound familiar? Are you caught up in the balancing act, unable to do it all and care only for others without caring for yourself? You are only as good as you are balanced! If you do not take the time for yourself – yes, even with the array of responsibilities pressuring you now – you will not be the best that you can be. That personal best includes you as mom, wife, friend, partner, professional, educator or community leader. That personal best is what will enable you to reach new heights in your career, to achieve your goals and to maintain your health.
Nurses have multiple sources of stress. From an unrealistic workload due to inadequate staffing and excessive paperwork; fluctuating schedules associated with changing shifts; mandatory overtime; floating without appropriate orientation; and moral and ethical dilemmas, nurses see and feel it all.
Additionally, being single, rearing young families, and/or caring for aging parents are common life circumstances with unique psychosocial and logistical challenges. Many professionals have sought flexible, virtual arrangements in pursuit of balanced personal lives. We all have personal and career goals. By visualizing those goals, we empower ourselves to achieve them. Taking small action steps toward our goals puts them within our reach.
Although workplace stress cannot be eliminated, the negative stressors can be reduced when nurses make caring for themselves a priority. Self-care can be a barrier to stress-related illness and contribute to your overall well-being. To maintain the delicate balancing act required for self-care, you must control your actions and personal/professional life. You must be resilient. Resiliency – the ability to pick yourself up and keep going – helps us to maintain balance.
How do you become resilient? Here are some tips:
- Create a personal environment that sustains you. Your personal environment either sustains and lifts you up or sets you up for certain failure. Your daily life unfolds in this space that you have created through actions, reactions or non-actions. Be cognizant of these critical elements: your thoughts, physical condition, self, spirit, relationships and finances.
- Bounce back as needed. Don’t let minor setbacks hold you back.
- Stay in the present and move forward.
- Know when to ask for help and where to get it.
Make priorities. Just as you learned within your basic nursing program to prioritize within your scope of practice, you should prioritize within your life. The balance between work and life is a reflection of the balance within you. Life/work balance is a barometer for well-being – personal, professional, family and community well-being. To maintain that delicate life/work balance, try these suggestions:
- Simplify your life
- Eliminate stress
- Negotiate for workplace balance
- Know your purpose
- Stay focused
- Eat, sleep and be merry
- Maintain a good sense of humor
- Allow humor in the workplace
- Dream big dreams
- Master the fine art of list-making
Identify those things that must be done and those that can wait. Identify the groups to which you must belong, and those for which you must volunteer your time and efforts. Even though there is so much to do and so little time, take time for yourself and make balance a part of your daily routine! You will thank yourself, and those around you will thank you too.
There never seems to be enough time during the day to get everything done. You can’t spare people to go to training because there is so much work to be done, but you also can’t neglect their training and development. Learn n Lunch may be your solution to the challenge of providing additional training by making the lunch hour the learning hour!
What Is Learn n Lunch?
At its simplest, a learn n lunch program is a training event scheduled during the lunch hour. Employees who attend brown bag it and eat during the session. More informal than most training programs, it still provides an opportunity for continuing education credits and rewards staff. For more information about a lunch n learn at your facility, contact Sharon Weinstein now!
Would you rather earn $1.00 per hour working 100 hours by yourself – or – would you rather have 100 people working, in which case you would earn $1.00 per hour from each of their efforts? Think about the possibilities if you use the talents of others rather than merely your own. If you help others achieve their dreams, you will achieve your own dreams! How does that happen? It happens through LEVERAGE! Consider this – 97% of the workforce in this country is either employed or owners of their own small business (physician/attorney/dry cleaner/baker). They all work hard – earning 3% of all of the wealth. And, the remaining 3% of the workforce includes those who own larger businesses with multiple employees where the employees work to build the dreams of the owner, or investors. Collectively, they earn 97% of all of the wealth in this country. They work smarter – not harder. They LEVERAGE themselves, their time, their efforts, and their money! LEVERAGE IS A GREAT CONCEPT…why is it so misunderstood, and why don’t more of us take advantage of the idea!
Let’s go fly a kite – off to the greatest height. Let’s start soaring… have you ever wanted to reach the greatest heights of success, to realize your dreams, and to live well and live longer? The time is now to fly that kite, and I can show you how! How often have you asked yourself that question? You attend a meeting, a conference, a networking event. You participate in a conference call or webinar. You join a committee. And, yet you ask yourself the same question, “What’s in it for me?”
Well, now What’s in it for YOU is here as a website (www.wiifyou.com), and as a set of tools that can be used to gain WEALTH, HEALTH, ACHIEVEMENT, TRAINING AND SUCCESS. It’s time to take out that kite – or better yet – get a new one! Let’s go soaring…
Age – Wisdom
“That is the great fallacy: the wisdom of old men. They do not grow wise, they grow careful.”
I had the privilege of addressing reinventing yourself – the Kellogg Way to the graduate school, and I am happy to share words of wisdom with you.
Why are you here today? Are you over the hill like Charles Schultz, picking up speed, growing wiser or growing more careful like Hemingway? Have you been in your present position for a year, two years, or more? Are you in a dead-end position that seems to lack a future? Do you hate your boss, or are you the boss?
Is it time for you to reinvent yourself? I have done it several times. Growing up with parents who told me to learn to type because I would never amount to anything, I was challenged at an early age to be the best of the best. As the middle of 5 kids, I did not have the ‘middle child syndrome’, but I did have the ‘caught in the middle syndrome.’ And, it was not fun! So, I started at an early age to identify ways in which I could better myself, learn and do more, achieve great heights, and then start all over again.
As a nurse, and I entered nursing school because I liked people, got a scholarship from the Philadelphia public schools, and had a safe place to live…I loved patient care. I often thought that there were patients who could not possibly recover without my presence on each and every shift. I worked harder and smarter than many of my classmates, and I was a good student…although an impatient one. I was always in anticipation of the next step…the next part of the obstacle course…the next challenge. As I think back, I realize that part of my wish to reinvent myself stemmed from a lack of self-esteem and an awareness that others were brighter, kinder, and that they came from what seemed to be (at least on the outside) loving families. So, part of reinventing myself involved giving myself a new look, a new role, a new career – an opportunity to shine beyond my wildest dreams. And, I worked hard at it.
Kellogg prepares us well for the transformation – a quality education, a renowned facility, challenging faculty and a competitive student body – the basic steps in a renaissance movement! Kellogg sets the standard and we reach to attain that standard and to reach beyond it. The Kellogg graduate has great expectations for a career, and much is expected of him or her in the workplace.
But, the Kellogg graduate also has an opportunity to shine beyond his or her wildest dreams…by rediscovering oneself and reinventing one’s place in the workforce.
People reinvent themselves for different reasons. For some, it’s the sudden realization that they’re not happy or fulfilled. This is what’s commonly called a mid-life crisis. The reinventors, on the other hand, prefer the term “finding themselves,” particularly when they’re not in the mood to admit that they’re flat out bored and need a change. Some of you may have kids who are still finding themselves – you may be that inner child yourself.
Think of your own reinvention and what it might look like. Narrow your wish list down to the top three reinvention choices…they will be fluid and subject to change. Then, take action towards them and watch what happens. Reinvention is about a decision, a commitment, and action steps in support of that decision. Make the decision yours and yours alone…and see yourself reinvented the Kellogg way.
Think of the mouse in Who Moved My Cheese, the adult parable made famous by Spencer Johnson. At some point in your life, you have to make a decision. You have to change. Change is a constant and an essential catalyst for reinventing our selves, our lives, and our work. Change usually takes courage and tenacity, especially when there is no guarantee of success. Change is a process of reinvention. And, you don’t have to wait for middle age or be in the midst of a crisis to reinvent yourself. In fact, it’s a lot more fun when you’re neither. And keep in mind that if your reinvention doesn’t work out, you can always reinvent yourself again.
Frankly, network marketing, or MLM, is a business model whose time has come. Now taught in multiple business schools around the country, it is a model that works. Perhaps that is why so many folks are frightened of it – they do not realize that everyone needs a Plan B in life. That Plan B is not necessary another job, another opportunity, more hours, and less pay. That Plan B can be a lifetime of rewards for the work that you do now – work that will increase in value over time. This philosophy is known as leverage. Would you prefer to work 100 hours weekly, or collaborate with 100 folks, each of whom works 1 hour per week? Network marketing works because it is word of mouth marketing. It is based on your recommendations about product or service. If you could monetize your own circle of influence, you would profit nicely from things you already do. You would create residual income!
Let’s talk about residual income – the income that keeps on flowing. Residual income is revenue that occurs over time from work done one time. Some examples include:
•An insurance agent who gets commission every year when a customer renews his policy
•A network marketing or direct sales rep’s income from her direct customers when they reorder product every month
•An aerobics instructor who produces a video and sells it at the gyms where she teaches
•A marketing consultant who creates a workbook and sells it in e-book format on the Internet
•A photographer who makes his photos available through a stock photography clearinghouse and gets paid a royalty whenever someone buys one of his images
Are you ready to explore MLM as the next step in your career? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone and create your own future, rather than someone else’s?
I am honored to be a part of The Art of Nursing educational series for Nurses Week – 2014. Nurses and nursing are at the heart of healthcare, and this is an appropriate time to recognize the value that nurses bring to the workplace, the differences that they make in lives around the country and across the globe, and to honor them. The Art of Nursing is registering now! Join me for 4 days and 12 nurse pioneers sharing insights on nursing passion, purpose, and patient-focused practice. http://bit.ly/1eKC4ec
To prepare for the future, we generate resolutions for the New Year. We contemplate on those who give us joy, our vision for the future, what we would like to see change, our workability, and perhaps our ability to manage change!
“That is the great fallacy: the wisdom of old men. They do not grow wise, they grow careful.” –
Have you been in your present position for a year, two years, or more? Are you in a dead-end position that seems to lack a future? Do you hate your boss, or are you the boss? If you had to reinvent, or rewire yourself for the future, how might that look?
I first heard about International Women’s Day while working in Eastern Europe. I was delighted to see that women were honored with days off, time off, floral arrangements, candy, gifts, and much, much more. Everyone realized the significance of this special day and the need to honor the women in their lives. I often wished that we could celebrate in the US, and that the holiday would glean the respect that it does abroad. Inspiring Change is the 2014 theme and encourages advocacy for women’s advancement everywhere in every way. It calls for challenging the status quo for women’s equality and vigilance inspiring positive change.
Each year International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911. The time has never been better to draw recognition to the women who have touched your live in special ways. Honor and inspire change!
I love to write. For years, I have published articles of human interest, manuscripts in peer-review journals, and books (most of them were textbooks and only of interest to those in that specialty). But, being published twice in a year – first by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, and then by Nursing Knowledge International – is a treat, an honor and a professional privilege. Writing, like reading, is fun-damental, and you should try it!