5 Attainable New Year’s Resolutions for Nurses

By Sarah Knight, ShiftMed Content Manager//Holidays and Celebrations, Nursing Profession
A nurse leaves work with a coffee in hand and a smile on her face.

What are some good New Year's resolutions for nurses? While it's important to make resolutions that align with your priorities and objectives, here are five resolutions worth pursuing because they provide a framework for ongoing professional development and contribute to a fulfilling nursing career.

1. Strike a Healthy Nursing Work-Life Balance

As you know, nursing is one of the most demanding jobs available. The long hours and high workloads can quickly take a toll on your physical and mental health—which doesn’t do you or your patients any good. A healthy work-life balance can boost your well-being, provide better patient care, and sustain a fulfilling nursing career. So, how do you achieve work-life balance in nursing?

You can:

  • Prioritize tasks and set realistic goals for each shift.

  • Set clear boundaries between work and personal life.

  • Decline additional tasks when overloaded.

  • Address understaffing concerns with management.

  • Download the ShiftMed app to work when, where, and how often you want.

2. Focus on Nurse Burnout Prevention

Nurse burnout is work-related stress that affects your physical and mental health. Some of the most common causes of burnout include a lack of control, long work hours, emotional strain, and an absence of social support. So, what can you do to prevent nurse burnout?

You can:

  • Make a conscious effort to leave work at work when you punch out.

  • Find ways to eat healthier, get better sleep, and exercise more.

  • Identify and minimize your stress triggers at work and home.

  • Practice positive self-talk during stressful situations instead of being negative.

  • Ask your employer about stress management training for nurses.

  • Start working shifts through a flexible nursing jobs app like ShiftMed.

3. Look Into Nursing Certifications

Whether you're a CNA, LPN, or RN, you can advance your career by getting certified in a specialty area of nursing practice, from acute care to behavioral health to medical/surgical. Not sure where to start? We recommend checking out this comprehensive list of nursing certifications. Not to mention, ShiftMed nurses receive exclusive pricing on several online certificate programs and in-demand nursing degree programs.

4. Join a Professional Organization for Nurses

Nursing associations provide unique nurse networking and professional development opportunities. They also update you on the latest nursing innovations and healthcare industry trends. The American Nurses Association, the National League for Nursing, and the Emergency Nurses Association are among the top professional organizations for nurses.

5. Make New Nursing Friendships

Nursing friendships bring stability and camaraderie to the highs and lows of the profession. And let's be honest. Only a nurse can truly understand what another nurse goes through. Nurses who form strong connections with other nurses at work tend to experience lower levels of job stress.

While making friends as an adult can be difficult, it doesn't have to feel like crossing a large mountain. You can take a bunny hill approach by spending 10 minutes a day building friendships at work. You can also put yourself out there by mentoring other nurses or being mentored.

Nursing Career Reflection

Unsure about these five New Year's resolutions for nurses? You can come up with some of your own through nursing career reflection. After all, you're a natural at reflection because it's part of your professional practice. You assess patients, take what you find to create an intervention, and then evaluate. Then, the cycle continues.

Reflecting on your nursing career, however, can be difficult because it's easy for things to get lost along the way. Nurses put their heart and soul into caring for others but don't typically do the same for themselves. Remember that you are a human being who deserves a healthy, happy life—just like your patients.

Need some prompting to start reflecting? Think about what being a nurse means to you and why you entered the profession in the first place. Then, think about where you want to be in 10 years and what goals you need to set to get there.

As a side note, consider reflecting on each of your shifts as you head home from work. Shift reflection lets you mentally synthesize what happened during your shift, focusing on how you felt and responded to things that occurred. So, when you get home, you feel more relaxed (hopefully). Furthermore, by taking time to recall, reaffirm, and consider everything you learned and accomplished during your shift, you can cultivate positive responses that prevent you from burning out.

How to Get New Year's Resolutions for Nurses to Stick

Current research suggests that individuals typically give up pursuing their New Year's resolutions within the first month. Why? Their goals might be too vague or abstract. For example, you can't pledge to lose weight without an action plan. Ask yourself: How can I incorporate weight loss into my daily routine? How many times will I exercise per week? What foods will I eliminate from my diet?

The process you take in reaching your goal holds more weight than simply choosing to change. Because when you're intentional in how you'll implement change, you're more apt to succeed. Consider setting SMART goals to map out your nursing career objectives in the new year and beyond.

A nurse sits on steps holding a coffee and looking at her phone.

SMART Goals for Nurses

SMART goals help you lay the groundwork for nursing career advancement and monitor your progress. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound and are parameters to ensure your objectives are attainable within a specific timeframe.

  • Be specific with your goals. When your goals lack detail and focus, they are open for interpretation and could derail your progress.

  • Keep your goals measurable. You want to be able to measure your progress and celebrate your victories, so be sure to set clear milestones and a defined finish line for each goal.

  • Keep your goals attainable. Don't set yourself up for failure by setting goals beyond your immediate reach. If you have a complex goal that requires several steps, break it down into a series of manageable goals.

  • Be realistic with your goals. Set goals that are within your skill set or abilities. Keep them rooted in reality and build your professional momentum through the successful milestones you achieve.

  • Keep your goals timely. When you create a target timeline for your goals, you can gauge if you need to put more effort into reaching your self-imposed deadline.

When you take the time to set SMART goals, you're setting yourself up for success with nursing career objectives that keep you motivated and focused.


Prioritizing professional development and fostering a fulfilling nursing career can be achieved through thoughtful New Year's resolutions. The five resolutions outlined above serve as a valuable framework for nurses to enhance their skills, stay current with industry trends, and maintain a solid commitment to patient care.

By setting goals that align with your personal and professional objectives, you can embark on a journey of continuous improvement, ensuring you provide the highest standard of care while cultivating a rewarding and sustainable career for yourself. Happy New Year!