The beginning of the year is often a time to reflect on your life and plan for the future. It may even be a time to break bad habits or pursue some New Year’s resolutions! In a career that has a lot of flexibility — like travel nursing — it’s a great opportunity to review your recent professional experiences and future goals. Doing so can help you get excited about the possibilities awaiting you!

To steer you along the way, here are the three major questions you need to consider before you choose your 2019 assignment goals.

1. What do I value the most?

If you let your values drive your decisions, you’re going to be much happier about their outcomes. As a travel nurse, there are a lot of pros to consider! Typically they break down into four categories:

  • Location. For most travel nurses, the desire to experience new places is one of the top draws of the career. The good news is that there’s a need for travel nurses practically everywhere! Maybe you’re drawn in by the chance to see Broadway shows in New York City. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to lounge on a beach in Waikiki.  If your heart is set on being on assignment somewhere exciting in 2019, make sure your recruiter knows!
  • Salary. You’re in a profession known for being highly lucrative. Rates can vary assignment to assignment. Is your goal to max out your potential by getting the highest compensation? You can work with your recruiter to see what opportunities will be your best, and especially if there are any that can give you big bonuses in overtime, holiday pay, on-call duty, or other extra work.
  • More personal time. Maybe you’ve taken a look at your life and see that 2019 is a time to regroup on personal goals. You’ve decided you want more time to spend with friends, family, or a romantic partner, or you’ve taken on a project that has a lot of personal meaning. Talk to your recruiter about options for shorter assignments or ones that require fewer hours.
  • Work environment. This is a big one that’s often underlooked. What do you want in your work environment or culture? Is it important to be somewhere you can learn new skills, or work with people known for being good team players? Locations can differ more than you might think. (Here are some of the best-ranked hospitals in the country!) You might also know from experience that you got along really well with the staff at one of your prior assignment locations. Day-to-day work experience plays a huge role in life satisfaction.

2. What’s practical for my situation?

So you’ve looked at your dream goals . . . and now it’s time to consider the more down-to-earth side of things! Do you have any responsibilities you really need to stay on top of in 2019? For example:

  • Family obligations. If you’re a parent or you care for an ailing relative, you probably need to factor it in when you make your choices. If you have young children, you might consider whether homeschooling can work for you. If you’d rather plan to put your children in a traditional school setting, maybe you’ll need to plan any long-distance assignments during the summer break.
  • Travel distance. Health or family obligations can sometimes require you to stay closer to home. Just because you’re a “travel nurse” doesn’t mean you always have to go a long distance! There may even be assignments near your permanent home location.
  • Financial responsibilities. Do you have a mortgage to pay or other debt? Are you eager to build up a savings plan? Do you anticipate any future financial obligations, like paying for braces or saving up for a child’s college expenses?

3. How can I balance practical needs with my dream aspirations?

Here’s the best and final question. Now that you’ve considered what’s highest among your priorities and what’s most practical for your situation, ask yourself how they work in tandem. It’s all about balance! Finding goals that are both fulfilling and practical is deeply rewarding.

Think creatively to get a solid plan in action:

  • Maybe your goal is to get as many assignments under your belt as you can in the first half of 2019 so that you can have the time and resources to go on a 6-month-long round the world trip.
  • Maybe you’re going to take an assignment that doesn’t pay the highest wages because you know its flexibility, schedule-wise, will let you pursue a cool personal project.
  • Maybe you’re going to challenge yourself to earn as much money as possible this year — even if it means sacrificing a little bit on the locations you’d prefer to be. Your goal is to build up a nest egg for a house downpayment — which you know will be worth the compromise and effort!

Whatever you decide, travel nursing is a career that works with you to meet your goals. Talk to your recruiter about your dreams! Together, you can make a plan and put it in action.