I have often remarked that this is why I retired – my job was interfering with my work! But the fact is that many nursing faculty I encounter who feel this way are nowhere near being able to retire, and of course, none of us want to hasten the process of aging! So the question remains – how to deal with the many demands placed on nurse educators – and still pursue that which arises from our deepest purposes in life. I do not have a magic answer, but here are some ideas that I pass along as suggestions – I hope will help you address this challenge.
- The most important thing, I believe, is to engage in deep reflection and soul searching focused on exploring your deepest desires, and brings to awareness your central purpose – the meaning of your life. Consider why you became a nurse educator, and the highest good that you seek in holding this vital role in our profession. Develop an affirmation that expresses your deep purpose, and start using this affirmation to help this purpose guide you toward full expression in your words and actions. Affirmations “work” – they are ideals that are not quite yet “real” – but that you want to bring forth. Here are examples: “I believe in high level wellness for myself, my colleagues and my students,” “I trust my ability to seek peace and justice for all,” “I value the power of nursing.”
- Reflect on your affirmation and imagine the ideal ways that you might live fully from this space of your deepest purpose. Remember that an ideal is usually not achievable (at least not immediately) but the ideal exists as a beacon calling you in that direction. Think about steps you might take to bring you closer to your ideal. For example, someone who seeks peace and justice for all might bring to the forefront the conflicts that boil up in their own family life, and imagine ways to address those conflicts in ways that lead to a greater level of peace within the family.
- Once you have your affirmation, re-assess all of the events and situations that seem to be barriers to fulfilling your purpose. Select those that you believe you can change, those that you believe you cannot change, and those that leave you mystified. Reflect on the things you believe you can change, and start working on those. Then reflect on the things you believe you cannot change and work out ways you can develop to cope with those until they can change. Set the things that mystify you aside – as you start taking affirmative action, these might emerge in a different light.
- As you reflect on your situation, realize that you do have options! You may not see them clearly at first, but as you start living from your inner purpose, your options will emerge!
My own purpose (one of them!) happens to be seeking peace and justice for all. Of course I am far short of achieving this ideal in many ways, but much of what I do, including writing this blog, and the ways in which I relate to people close to me, are shaped by this deep desire. So I wish this same kind of focus for each and every nurse educator reading this blog!