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How to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone in Travel Nursing

You might not understand at first, or you may have been trained another way, but the best way to learn is to stay open to how every hospital does things just a little differently. — Jamey Rains

You knew travel nursing was going to be a great adventure. And with great adventure comes great personal growth! As you grow, it helps to keep an open mind and be willing to live outside of your comfort zone.

One example is charting the way your supervisor wants it done. Spoiler alert: Not all hospitals chart the same way. Be prepared to re-learn a whole new system instead of fighting for what you know.

Here are some ways to stretch your comfort boundaries and challenge yourself as a travel nurse.

      1. Set a SMART goal for yourself. Lay out the steps you need to take to reach it and track your progress as you work toward your dream. Do you want to float and learn how to work in multiple departments? Are you dreaming of the California sun from your Michigan window or want to travel to multiple cities in the next year? Decide on your goals, map them out, and see them get checked off your list.
      2. Identify your complacency traps and patterns. Is it binge watching TV? Eating the same foods every night? Hours and hours of social media? Break up your routine with something new. Each new travel assignment can be an opportunity to break out of a rut.
      3. Identify the excuses you make to stay comfortable. Notice when they get in the way of what you really want. Once you find this self-awareness, come up with a solution to overcome these excuses. Or make like Nike and just do it. It might be time to move somewhere totally different and give it a try for 13 weeks at a time.
      4. Start spending time with people who are where you want to be or are doing what you want to be doing. You are a composite of the 5 people you spend the most time with, and if you spend your time with timid naysayers who are always complaining, it’s time to broaden your social circle. Find your tribe and some new nurse friends online.
      5. Look for a role model to emulate or a nurse mentor to guide you to your goals. Find out what they did to get to where they are — if they can do it, you can do it!
      6. Get out and try something new. That’s what Groupon, LivingSocial, and Goldstar are for. You came all the way out here on assignment, there is no reason to stay home all the time.
      7. Try out a new physical hobby: dancing, singing, learning an instrument, aerobics class, rock climbing, trapeze, martial arts, yoga — something that challenges your brain and your body simultaneously. What does your latest town offer that you can’t get back home? Do that!
      8. Take a class: cooking, painting, pottery, woodworking, or something else that gets you creating with your hands. Or try a communication booster such as improv, toastmasters, or a foreign language. The verbal activities will help you at work, and the hands-on classes will help you forget about work and do something totally unrelated to taking care of others.
      9. Find a volunteer opportunity or a way to get involved and give back to something you believe in. You will gain a deeper understanding of your new community and meet people with similar interests and values.
      10. Keep in mind that this is all a head game. The fear and fight or flight response that you are feeling is your mind telling you to stay small and maintain the status quo of your life. You’re a travel nurse, so the status quo is not going to cut it. As the saying goes, you have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Remember that practice makes perfect. Take baby steps if you have to. Be proud of all of your successes, no matter how small or incremental. You may not completely overcome your discomfort the first few times you’re trying something new. Riding out this short-term discomfort will yield a long-term reward.

Want more tips on the travel nursing life? Check out our interview series.

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