How do you measure success?

Were you able to identify any goals for yourself after the last article?

Today we’re moving on to…

Step Two: Measuring Success

Once you’ve identified your goal, you need to define what it will look like when you’ve been successful at that goal. If you don’t define the finish line, then you’ll never know when you’re done studying. Not a fun prospect!

Let’s take a look at a couple examples so I can show you exactly what I mean. For these examples, I’m going to use the goal we identified last time of “I’m going to pass my exam next week.” Let’s pretend that the exam is about Heart Failure.

Example One: I’ll know I’m successful when I get 100% on my exam.

This is the way that MOST nursing students define success. The problem is that it’s practically impossible in nursing school! No matter how much you study, you will never know everything there is to know about Heart Failure…even experienced Cardiac nurses will admit that!  Plus, there will probably be at least one “curveball” question on the exam that will undermine your confidence and make you feel like a failure.

If you try to define success this way, then you’ll be studying based on fear. Fear that you’ll miss an important (or not-so-important) detail, fear that you don’t know how to think like a nurse, fear that you won’t remember all the facts you so carefully memorized. When you approach success this way, it will always feel like there’s more studying that needs to be done. And so you’ll keep studying Heart Failure even after you should have moved on to another equally important topic.

You need to be able to define success in a way that will allow you to see the finish line. Let’s look at the second example.

Example Two: I’ll know I’m successful when I can explain what goes wrong in Heart Failure, and how that underlying A&P causes the most common symptoms seen. I’ll also be able to identify 3 commonly used medications, explain why they’re used, and predict three likely nursing actions I could take.

This way of defining success is much better! It is very concrete and achievable, and depends entirely on you, rather than on the vague hope that the teacher won’t pick any weird test questions. The best part is that once you can provide the information you defined in your definition of success, you can stop studying and move on to another topic, confident that you have built a solid foundation for heart failure.

Another important thing to notice is that it is a lot longer of a definition than our first (bad) example.  That means that you’re probably going to have to put a little bit of extra thought into what it really means to be successful at this goal.

It’s not easy to transition to this way of thinking because you are probably so used to the fear-based method of studying. But trust me…in your journey to learn to think like a nurse, it’s worth it!

Next time we’ll cover Step Three: the Dreaded Deadline!

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