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Tips to Help Nurses Pick New Year’s Goals

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Published December 21, 2021 · 5 Min Read

Should nurses set New Year's goals or resolutions? What's the best way to raise the chances for success? These tips may help make next year the best year yet.
Tips to Help Nurses Pick New Year’s Goals
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The New Year poses an opportunity for a fresh start full of opportunity and promise. Even turning the corner on the new year during an ongoing pandemic feels like progress.

But Jan. 1 also comes with the daunting task of picking goals for the new year, not to mention sticking with them!

We interviewed three nurses in varying stages of their career to find out how they have identified New Year's goals, what they found helpful, and the suggestions or advice they would give to our readers.

"If you do not have a goal, then positive change is less likely to happen," says Robin Squellati, a nursing faculty member with 28 years of nursing experience.

How to Pick Goals for the New Year

For some people, holiday remorse motivates them to develop their New Year's resolutions. You know, the guilt you feel after a month of holiday excess. It can drive you to live a healthier or more financially responsible lifestyle or to achieve something great the following year.

Research from the University of Scranton shows it takes just two weeks for 30% of people to give up on their New Year's resolutions. However, research also found that people who made resolutions were 10 times more likely to report a positive change six months later than those who made no resolutions at all.

In other words, the act of making a New Year's resolution increases the likelihood of you experiencing a positive change in your life. Additionally, having a goal with a plan will improve your odds even more than having a vague resolution.

4 Tips From Nurses on Picking a Goal

So, how do you pick your New Year's goals? According to one large-scale experiment, the most popular resolutions focused on:

  • Physical health
  • Weight loss
  • Eating habits

How you choose your goals for the coming year will impact how committed you are to attaining them.

1. Try Getting Quiet and Focusing on Your Future

Lindsay Garland, RN, is a certified dementia practitioner. She says her goal for 2022 is to create a national television show to teach people about dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

She recommends getting quiet and focusing on your future to pick a goal.

"You have to stop all the noise around you and stop all the noise in your brain," she says. "Pick a quiet place to sit and start writing down anything that comes to you."

2. Listen to Your Core Needs

Similarly, Giorgio Falcão, who is becoming a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, suggests that nurses who struggle to come up with New Year's goals listen to themselves and their core needs.

"The stress of daily life can keep us in a state of constant hurry that we become unaware of the present moment," he says.

3. Choose a Quiet Place and Write

Choosing a quiet place to be with your thoughts helps you settle on what's most important to you at this point in your life.

Find somewhere quiet and private, ideally where you won't be interrupted, and write down what ideas come to you. These can be your dreams, fears, hopes, among other ideas. After writing out all that comes to you, use this to see what needs attention in your life going into the new year.

Dare to dream big. The goals you choose may take several years to accomplish, such as Falcão's master's degree, but without dreaming and starting, you'll never finish.

4. Start With Your Body's Needs

Start small if you're struggling to think of long-term or impactful goals. Think about your body and mind and what they might need moving into the new year.

  • Is there anything that needs attention, such as health, diet, exercise, fluids, sleep, or better alcohol or substance use moderation?
  • Do you practice ways to decrease stress?
  • Is there a relationship that needs more attention?

15 Goals Nurses Could Set for the New Year

The goals you set for the New Year will help guide your life decisions and even your everyday decisions. Goals are not accomplished overnight. You'll need to take steps each day or every week to see them come to fruition.

Here are a few goals you might consider for the coming year:

  1. Transfer to another unit to gain different skills and greater experience.
  2. Attend in-house educational offerings to become more multifaceted.
  3. Explore your options to advance your education and career.
  4. Develop nursing leadership skills.
  5. Improve your technology-based skill set.
  6. Enhance your soft skills for nurses like communication.
  7. Practice self-care for nurses, self-awareness, or mindfulness techniques.
  8. Create and follow a plan or tips to prevent nurse burnout.
  9. Find and work with a professional mentor.
  10. Get specialized training or certification.
  11. Reconnect with family members you may not have seen because of the pandemic or for other reasons.
  12. Volunteer in your community, hospital setting, or in the mission nursing field.
  13. Eat a healthier diet.
  14. Smile and laugh more often.
  15. Repair a broken relationship.

Set Intentions to Achieve Long-Term Goals

Goal setting can be a powerful tool. Goals can motivate you, help you identify required tasks, and are essential to developing new skills. Part of accomplishing your goals is to also set an intention of how you want to experience the moments that lead to your goal.

Intentions are based on what matters most about a specific goal: what you want to experience. Intentionally experiencing the smaller moments is independent of whether you win or lose, whether you achieve your goal or don't.

For example, you may have a goal of learning a new skill or hobby. To accomplish that goal, you schedule out time dedicated to this skill or hobby by signing up for a class. When you act intentionally, you enjoy the process of learning something new.

You may make new friends in the class, or discover working with your hands helps you decompress. Even if you don't reach your goal of mastering the skill, you'll recognize how the changes in your life lead to more connections, self-awareness, or less stress.

When you focus solely on your goals, you miss out on the other benefits that come from the changes you make to achieve it. By combining your intentions and goals, you'll enjoy the journey to your goal just as much.

It's important to remember that goals keep your focus on the future, while intentions are what you experience in the present. They are how you live each day, independent of your final destination.

Meet Our Contributors

Portrait of

Giorgio Falcão is a LGBTQIA+ asylee and works at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in New York City. He earned an associate's in nursing from CUNY Hostos Community College, followed by a bachelor's from CUNY School of Professional Studies. Falcão is working toward a master's at Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing with a focus in psychiatric mental health. He would like to support LGBTQIA+ individuals and asylees in his future practice as a psychiatric mental healthcare provider.


Portrait of Robin Squellati, Ph.D., APRN-C

Robin Squellati, Ph.D., APRN-C

Robin Squellati is an advanced practice registered nurse and faculty member for Walden University's master of science in nursing program. Squellati is a certified nurse practitioner and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, where she served as a nurse for 28 years.


Portrait of Lindsay Garland, RN

Lindsay Garland, RN

Lindsay Garland is a certified dementia practitioner, speaker, and founder of The Hero Caregiver Academy. She has over 16 years of experience in dementia. Her mentorship equips caregivers with the tools and knowledge to live the best quality of life for themselves while also caregiving, especially for a loved one with memory loss.

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