One thing I know about RNs is that you didn’t get into nursing for the big bucks, the big raises or the big perks (like the cafeteria food, going four hours without a restroom break or the five-minute lunch hour). To do everything that RNs do every day, you have to be wired by passion, by a fire that drives you to make a difference in the lives you hold in your hands. RNs have the strength of fire and passion. But are you as fired up about your nursing career today as when you first started? If not, what are you fired up about?
I remember my own fear of fire, or at least my fear of losing my own fire and passion. In 1982, after six years in my nursing job, unsatisfied with the career choice I made, I woke up to the fear of becoming like so many other nurses at the hospital – burned out, exhausted, the spark gone. A voice in my head said “Vickie, forget Code Blue. It’s time to Code You.” I faced a decision: Step out into the unknown or spend the rest of my life working as a hospital nurse.
My dream was to start a legal nurse consulting business advising attorneys on medical-related cases. Afraid to step out, I settled for reading business books instead. Then, one day I thought about how easy it was for me to resuscitate a dying patient – I could practically do it in my sleep. You know what I’m talking about and may even have resuscitated a few patients that way yourself. So I asked myself, what could be so hard about resuscitating my own career and life by just stepping out and going for it?
With only $100 in my savings account, I stepped out and called my first attorney-prospect to offer my services as a legal nurse consultant. To my horror he answered the phone. About to hang up, I told myself: “If he was wearing a hospital gown with his backside showing, I would have no problem introducing myself and inserting a Foley catheter so Vickie, just talk to him.” I sputtered out something that I’m sure was unintelligible, and despite that clumsy start, he became my first attorney-client. Stepping out for what I wanted gave me the freedom to live and work my passions.
For me, success is not about the achievement. It’s not the pay raise, promotion or the prize at the end. The real achievement comes from just stepping out. Every time we step out into the unknown, win or lose, we succeed. I might break a leg or invest in a losing business idea. But I won’t end up at my 90th birthday party with nothing more than stale white cake and regrets about the paths not taken. I understand that bad things can happen when we step out, but I believe worse things happen to our souls when we don’t.
If you’re at a crossroads in your nursing career, stuck in your nursing job and feel you’re not living passionately, try stepping out and exploring new options. Find or create something you can be on fire about. If fear is holding you back, start with baby steps. I started my legal nurse consulting business part time while still working extra shifts at the hospital to pay my mortgage. I really had nothing to lose and everything to gain. There’s a certain freedom to being an RN and knowing that if you do step out and fail, you’ve got a wealth of experience as a terrific safety net to fall back on. That thought alone should give you the courage to step out.
Remember, life is too short to live it with regrets. Step out and try something new, something daring or just something different. It doesn’t have to be legal nurse consulting. I just want you to live a life of your choosing, not one of your surrender. Take a few minutes today and consider those dreams you’ve put aside. This might be the perfect time to act on them.
Vickie Milazzo Institute
P.S. Comment and share what you will be doing for yourself now to ignite your fire.