SP Leaders: Set the Stage for Long-Term Growth

Feb. 20, 2024

The beginning months of a new year are an opportune time to turn a new page professionally. Although I’ve never been one to set resolutions, I do find it helpful to reflect upon my work habits to stay grounded and energized in the long term. Our purpose and goals can be nurtured by focusing on habits to drive success. 

It is important to recognize that what works for one person may not always work for another. Therefore, when reading this article, I encourage you to consider what resonates with you on a personal level. Take what speaks to you and let the rest go. My goal is to provide a springboard to launch yourself with renewed energy through 2024 and beyond. 

Prioritize your non-negotiables – Successful individuals identify the essential habits they cannot do without. Time for non-negotiables should be created in the calendar first. From a personal perspective, this may include a daily walk, meditation, or exercise. For work, I schedule my employee rounding, education, and management tasks throughout the calendar year. This gives me structure around the time I have available and the work I can accommodate.

Embrace empathy – Practice self-compassion. Many healthcare workers are facing burnout, and the last few years have been especially arduous. Sterile processing (SP) leaders are struggling to maintain their energy, but how much of that fatigue is due to the voice in our heads? Often, we impose our own limits, and this can manifest itself physically. Be kind to yourself to find your inner strength and grace.

Put goals in writing – Writing down our goals helps set them in motion. When we articulate our goals, this provides clarity on what we wish to accomplish and provides motivation and focus to achieve that goal. I would also recommend adopting SMART goal formats (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timebound). When SMART goals are set, we create the destination and the timeline for achievement. We must invest in ourselves and remember that we get what we give.

Find your Zen – Simplifying life whenever possible is prudent, as is focusing on effective time management. Managing our time effectively can help reduce stress, and planning our days or weeks in advance helps us maintain control and reduce overwhelm. Prioritization of tasks and schedules and breaking activities down into more manageable pieces are some small ways to reduce mental clutter. If inspired, consider decluttering your workspace, organizing the environment, and working toward creating systems to make life more efficient and streamlined.

Honor promises – Fulfilling our commitments helps us achieve our ambitions, while also forging trust and more effective relationships with colleagues and customers. This may seem like an easy concept; however, it requires practice because meeting our commitments can be challenging. It is acceptable to decline and not over-commit ourselves if time and resources simply cannot allow. For commitments that are accepted, consider writing them down, defining the need, and communicating with the appropriate parties to ensure that the request is understood.

Don’t wait for inspiration, create it – It is acceptable to take a mental break to allow time to refocus. Feel free to look to others for sources of inspiration. If you’ve run out of ideas, team up with a friend or colleague and bounce ideas off one another. Break your inspirations down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Reading is a particularly effective way to refresh your ideas or generate new ones.

Believe in yourself – This has been a game changer for me, leading to greater emotional self-control and resiliency. Every great leader uses belief in some context, be it practical, spiritual, or emotional. Our faith and beliefs require action, and when combined with our personal and professional values, such as maintaining a positive attitude and committing to hard work and professional development, they help build the framework for success. If you are personally struggling with this, I encourage you to find some quiet time to ponder how self-belief and positive self-talk may help put you on the path to becoming the best SP leader possible.

Keep the passion – Effective, inspirational leaders show genuine passion for their work and the goals they aim to meet. Passion is contagious, and if an SP leader is passionate about their work, they can help others feel the same energy. When work becomes especially challenging, reconnecting with our purpose to serve our team, customers, patients, and community can be invigorating. Passion brings that positive energy that inspires us to keep going and persevere, regardless of the circumstances.


Reflecting each year (and throughout each month) helps us set, prioritize, and adjust our goals and can serve as a powerful catalyst for personal and professional transformation. Our goals needn’t be complex or intimidating, and considering each of the suggestions in this article can serve as a first step toward achieving them.