My Life Plan

When I was completing my Bachelor’s degree as an adult returning student, one of my assignments was to write my “Life Plan” following the rubric and responding to a series of questions.

I've chosen to share my paper exactly as I wrote it that day. The subject content provided several opportunities to write about personal goals, self-awareness, communication styles, and personal development. All of these topics have been very helpful in understanding and even overcoming some of the personal challenges I've dealt with in recent years. 

Being able to discuss many topics, and putting these feelings and experiences into writing each week, helped put many things into perspective for me. Many of these issues have been part of my personal struggle and I see how I've mishandled some of them with my words, behaviors, or a combination of both. This resulted in undue stress and frustration both personally and professionally. 

I'm thankful for this course and for the ability to openly write about my life experiences, while at the same time, fine-tuning my writing skills. While this class was technically about learning to write professionally from a business perspective, I feel it also provided an opportunity to evaluate myself and others, on a psychological and emotional level, based on the topics and basis for each weekly assignment.

The Most Importance Aspects to Be Carried Forward To Enhance My Personal and Professional Life

The most important aspect I want to focus on is exhibiting positive energy and positive reinforcement, which can be used in any social, personal or professional situation. Displaying a positive attitude, energy, and giving positive feedback to others will help foster the behaviors we all prefer to see from our families and coworkers. When people see happy, positive behaviors, they are more likely to think happy and positive thoughts, especially in areas of their lives that need improvement. 

With positive energy, I can be compassionate, forgiving, caring, courageous, supportive, and hopeful; all traits that are necessary to live a happy and fulfilling life. I wrote a sample business letter to my daughter which used positive reinforcement and energy. I explained to her that a stable, calm, and rewarding work-life will help her to achieve the career balance and personal peace she is struggling to find as a new teacher and coach.  I was so pleased with this assignment, I actually gave her the letter.  I hope it was helpful to her; I may never know.

Another aspect I’ll take with me is the acceptance of personal responsibility. For years, I've blamed others for my short-comings and failures; particularly my parents and work managers. I realized I'm stronger and more independent than I give myself credit for. I realize and appreciate how I broke away and followed my dreams, despite what others thought or said. I eventually followed my own personal path, rather than the one that was chosen for me. 

I've learned to stop dwelling on negative feelings and anger and to let go of the perception I've disappointed my parents by not following in my father's footsteps. I'm an adult and like they once did, I made make the best decisions that worked for me. I now feel less hostile and completely guilt-free for my choices.

Along with positive energy and accepting responsibility, comes the difficult task of changing negative or undesirable behaviors. I've come to realize it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with family, coworkers, and friends, and to remember we can’t control the emotions and attitudes of others, only our own. We can positively influence others by leading by example and hoping they are impacted in a positive way.

The first assignment in this course was about communication styles and how to flex that communication. Being a nurse, and having to deal with many personalities between co-workers, doctors, and patients, I learned being flexible with communication styles is crucial. We want our working relationships to be positive and our patient's experiences satisfactory. Dealing with a difficult physician, a grouchy co-worker, or a disgruntled patient can be handled more effectively, and with a positive outcome, if we can be flexible when interacting.

I learned that being able to flex maintains balance and harmony during communication, especially in times of professional or personal conflict in dealing with someone who is behaving in a difficult way. I've even started to practice communication flexing with my children to achieve desired results in their attitudes and behaviors.

Specific Ways to Use What I’ve Learned To Be More Successful Personally and Professionally

To be successful personally, I must adhere to the goals I’ve set forth as a result of this class. I've discussed openly this semester, the trials and tribulations I've endured over the past years as the result of a major life change.  I'm generally successful at learning from my mistakes. I shared my experience with qualifying and running the Boston marathon two years, that included being present during the bombing in 2013 and how that didn’t deter me from running it again in 2014.

Lastly, I shared my experience of personal growth and development regarding my career move that took place after 17 years of service at the hospital I had intended to retire from. I also talked about my career change when I returned to college to pursue my original and desired goal of being a nurse. I shared the obstacles and difficulty of that transition with having a newborn and a toddler during that time and how I learned organizational skills and determination that has been the backbone to the rest of my success. 

I'm not one to give up or let the actions or negativity of others stop me or get me down; with the exception of my children and parents, and I'm working on that. I've failed where they are concerned, but after putting much of my experiences into writing and seeing what I've done wrong, I feel more empowered than ever to repair the broken relationships and reverse the negative thinking and energy. I can only do this by being committed, supportive, unselfish, positive, and leading by example. I can only control my own emotions and reactions, which should, in turn, have a positive effect on others, as long as I keep those emotions and reactions in check.

Professionally, I plan to continue learning and growing. I work in three different departments: Labor and Delivery/Antepartum High Risk, Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Virtual Health/Electronic Labor and Delivery (ELD). I've always held more than one position, as it keeps my mind fresh and prevents burnout and boredom. I'll use positive reinforcement and show positive behaviors at work to improve the working relationship with my peers, which isn't particularly bad, but there are always ways to improve, or better yet, prevent problems.

On a personal level, I'll continue to be proactive with practicing stress management techniques, improving my organizational skills by living an uncluttered life at home, use positive self-talk, demand less self-perfection, and always put family and personal development ahead of my work. Stress is a painful feeling and emotion that plagues everyone from time to time, and some people, almost daily. Stress can be internally, externally, or mentally driven. It causes mental and physical discomfort that includes: Pain, fear, anxiety, muscle tension, increased heart rate, body aches, sleep, disorders, and often times, depression.

Stress doesn’t always have to be negative. It can be a powerful stimulus for motivation and personal growth and can help one do their best work. I can attest to doing my best work under stress. I wrote about the training I did to qualify for the Boston Marathon while under a tremendous amount of stress (a pending dissolution and my father dying from cancer). I cannot be a productive or satisfied employee if I'm unhappy or generally dissatisfied personally.  In regard to that statement, I've done a very good job in the past of leaving home at home and work at work and continue to focus on making sure that practice continues. 

As a result of this class, I've used pieces from my written assignments to develop a personal development plan. We often talk about what we’ll do or what we want to do, but those goals often go by the wayside when we don't write them down. Putting goals into writing is a good way to hold oneself accountable. In addition to the emotional and mental development goals I wish to meet or maintain, I also have a "bucket list" that has 101 things I want to carry out before I die. To be fair, I made this list over 15 years ago. I've been diligent about working on it each year and crossing off the things I’ve accomplished.  I also occasionally prioritize the unfinished things into a new priority list. 

I've a set of physical goals in mind as well. The biggest one is to run a marathon (or another key distance race) in every state along with my husband, who is also an avid runner and cyclist. Not only does this meet my personal physical goal, but it also meets my personal goal of spending quality time with my husband and building and achieving our mutual goals together, which fosters our emotional bond and gives us something to always look forward to doing together.

In conclusion, personal and professional development must be an intentional and ongoing effort. I'm a firm believer personal growth and development and the achievement of goals, both work and personal, are never-ending. One should never stop learning new material, ideas, or even hobbies, and we should always do our best to continue to improve mentally, physically, and emotionally. I recognize I’ve created the environment in which I live, simply because of the choices I’ve made. The state of my health, finances, personal relationships, and professional life are all my doing and all within my control. No one else can control or change them. I’ve, for the most part, made good decisions, fixed what's been broken, and have achieved far more than many people in my immediate and extended circle of family and friends. I control my destiny and I’m very excited about what the future holds.

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