The Gift of a Year – By Mira Kirshenbaum

This year, instead of dreading the traditional New Year’s resolutions, psychotherapist Mira Kirshenbaum has a different strategy, described in her lovely book The Gift of a Year. Her approach is rather simple: most people’s needs and dreams have gone astray – long forgotten amid busy lives and the constant demands of others. But, what if you dedicated an entire year to do something special, something ripe with endless possibility? That is the gift of a year, which restores the natural and necessary balance between giving to yourself and giving to others. The basics of the program:

  1. What do you want? Figure out what you really want to do with your special year and what you want to get out of it.
  2. Why do you deserve it? Make sure you feel fully entitled to take a little time for yourself and saynoto some people and obligations you’ve been sayingyesto.
  3. How will you get it? Know how you’re going to fit whatever it is you want for yourself into your year and into your daily life.

Some advice from The Gift of a Year

Take your life as a registered nurse. Perhaps your buried dream involves furthering your nursing education; the gift in your year might involve adding a whole new piece to life. However, sometimes there are pitfalls to our possibilities. For instance, you might have genuine fears of failure. You might feel the safest path is just to forget the whole idea. Kirshenbaum believes “we structure our lives so we’ll feel safe.” In a real adventure, in something genuinely new, there is an element of uncertainty and danger somewhere. Otherwise, “you’re not really trying anything new at all. You’re just playing around the edges of your old life.” Her counsel: do not be afraid of fear.

Getting Started

Success from a gifted year does not always have to be large-scale. Just choose something that makes a solid, first step in the direction of your desire. Perhaps your first step is a question – what would be involved with advancing a nursing education? Two of the most common paths for nurses:

  • The online RN to BSN degree program – Thanks to advanced technology of online streaming video and audio lectures, these programs are rapidly growing in popularity, largely due to their convenience and quality. Many programs offer interaction with faculty and classmates through virtual office hours, faculty-monitored chat rooms, discussion boards and email. Professors are easy to contact and they quickly respond to questions/concerns. Some programs allow total flexibility to complete the required work on the student’s schedule. For example, an end-of-week deadline for each assignment is given, and then the student decides when to complete the work – day or night.
  • The online MSN program – With an aging nursing workforce and retirements looming, leadership positions in nursing will become available. Securing these positions will require higher education. Two such degree programs might be a nursing education master’s degree (preparing the student for clinical nurse educator or college professor positions) or the nursing leadership master’s (preparing the student for a nurse administrator career). Nearly all masters-level nursing programs are taught by professors who hold doctoral degrees. Clinically competent in their chosen field, these experts help you bridge the gaps between theory and practice.

So, 2012 is around the corner! Make it a grand year for you – and heed the words of Kirshenbaum: “You design your own menu instead of eating other people’s leftovers.”

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