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New Year’s Resolutions: How to Make Them — and Keep Them — as a Travel Nurse

Routines, stability, and a slow-paced life are great when you’re trying to reach goals . . . so does that sound like the life of a travel nurse?


As a travel nurse, you’re used to moving all over the country, changing up assignments and schedules, and being on your feet for 12-hour shifts. Still, as a professional nurse, you’ve got the key traits needed for success, like drive, self-reliance, and confidence. You know from experience that you can do something when you set your mind to it!

If you’re into New Year’s Resolutions, they can be a lot of fun — and truly motivating. Check out these tips for making and meeting your goals for the New Year!


When you sit down to draw up your list of resolutions, you’ll be wise to think carefully about how to frame them. There’s an acronym called SMART that will help you create realistic goals — which will ultimately be much more satisfying and attainable.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Let’s take a common example of a New Year’s resolution — getting fitter — and see how it works as a SMART goal.

  • Specific. “Getting fitter” is a great goal, but you’ll want to be more specific to really focus on what you want. Maybe you’re not as in shape as you once were and you’re feeling motivated by a desire to get back to the things you used to love doing. A more specific goal could be “I want to increase my fitness level so that I can enjoy racket sports and yoga again.”
  • Measurable. Now you’re into the fun analytics that can measure your progress. These can be simple baby steps! Part of your goal could be challenging yourself to jog a twelve-minute mile or developing the flexibility to touch your toes.
  • Achievable. Here’s where you look at what’s realistic. Perhaps instead of setting your eyes on tennis, it’s more likely you’ll succeed if you work on playing a less rigorous sport like pickleball. Or maybe you know you’re not interested in AcroYoga — but it would be pretty cool to do camel pose again!
  • Relevant. At this point in the planning stage, you’ll ask yourself whether this goal makes sense in your life right now. Are there realistic ways to achieve it? Maybe you can bring your yoga mat to work and leave it in the nurse break room. To build aerobic endurance, you could take the stairs at the hospital.
  • Time-bound. The icing on the cake is deciding WHEN it’s realistic to meet your goal and setting a date as a motivator. As an example, maybe you want to meet your fitness goals by the fall registration date of a pickleball league. Or maybe you’re dreaming of doing yoga on the beach because your next assignment is in Florida, and you want to be ready before you go.

Make them stick!

Okay, you’ve developed some SMART resolutions. How can you stay motivated to meet them? Rewards and penalties, of course!

Rewards can be as simple as promising yourself a treat. If your resolution is to read a book every week for a year, you might promise to buy yourself a new e-reader when you meet your goal. (Side note: The science of motivation is fascinating. Psychologists have found that as a general rule, rewards are motivating, but they can also have an undermining effect by reducing intrinsic motivation. Sometimes the greatest reward is the fulfillment of the goal itself!)

Penalties can be simple, too. If you’re determined to quit swearing in 2019, wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap it anytime you find yourself using a four-letter word. It’s an old psychological trick that even works for reducing anxiety.

Want to find some cool tech tools to help you out? There are a number of apps that can help you meet new goals and eliminate bad habits.

  • Fabulous is a leading habit tracking and goal setting app with motivational challenges.
  • Digit helps you save money by making the process automatic.
  • Habit-Bull is a daily goal tracking app designed to show you your progress rates through satisfying graphs and charts.
  • Quit That! Can encourage you to stop smoking, drinking, and more.
  • Headspace and Insight Timer are great places to start if want mindfulness is 2019
  • Way of Life is simple and clean and encourages users to form new habits.
  • Good Budget can help you reach financial goals by making it easier to monitor your spending and savings.
  • Parlay is a cool social app that lets you challenge your friends to any kind of contest you can think of. You might see who can do the most push-ups by the end of the year, read the most books, or knit the most hats.  You’ll create a bet — monetary works, but so do favors or the requirement to do an embarrassing task — and see who wins!

Finally, make things easier on yourself! See if you can find ways to reach your goals through double duty (read those 52 books while you work out, or listen to Headspace while you practice yoga!). Break up tasks into small, easy steps, and see these efficiency hacks for more ideas to find time for your resolutions.

Don’t give up!

Whatever you do, persistence is the most important step toward attaining any goal. In fact, psychologists have recognized a strong correlation between success and the traits associated with grit.  

If you find yourself struggling to keep up with your resolutions, think about the big picture. Remind yourself that when you set these goals, you had a really beautiful motivation in mind. You didn’t go into them trying to punish yourself or make yourself suffer.  You decided to make the best of your strengths, grow as a person, and make the choices that will slowly lead to fulfilling your dreams.

Taking a step back to remind yourself that you’re doing this for you can be a calming, gentle, motivating reminder of why you want to stay on track with your 2019 resolutions. You can do it!

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