by Kelly Beischel PhD, RN, CNE

I value transparency.

So much that I no longer have tolerance for folks who aren’t willing to be transparent and vulnerable with me.

You know who I’m talking about. Folks who pretend life is perfect or that they have no place to grow.

You and I both know that life doesn’t work that way. Life isn’t perfect. Life is messy. And we humans are often a mess as we navigate it.

But we have a simple tool to make our lives better. More joyful. Even easier. And it’s free!

What’s this miracle tool?

Deep reflection is the most impactful strategy for personal and professional growth. It’s the perfect tool for jump-starting the necessary disruption of a life set on autopilot. Deep reflection exposes our naked truth. And, for me, it’s not always pretty.

While December is a perfect time to reflect on the past year, life isn’t perfect. In fact, life in December is often mega messy.

To this end, I sat in reflection of 2016 the second week of January. Better late than never. Right?

I was astounded by what I discovered when reflecting on 2016 using Susan Hyatt’s reflection questions. Feel free to use these questions to guide your own reflection. You might be surprised (and delighted) with what you discover.

Here are the reflection questions with my naked truths as well as my plans for 2017.


What’s one thing that felt really hard this year?

Hands down, losing my dad to the complications of Alzheimer’s was the hardest thing I endured in 2016. Not much else to say about that.

My dad was so very proud of me after my Dissertation Defense. A memory I will always treasure.


What was the brightest, sparkliest spot this past year?

It’s always difficult for me to settle on one answer (without caveats). This is the reason I use Mixed Methods when researching. I want a voice not just a number. Shocker. I know!

Anyway, vacationing in Seattle with my family is probably the brightest spot in my year. There is nothing in the world that I get more sparkly about than time with my children and husband. (Coaching clients comes a near second.) It was even made brighter when my son and his boyfriend announced their engagement. (They announced it using custom-made cards for Cards Against Humanity.) (YES! I play that game.)


What’s the most disappointing thing that you experienced this year?

I was saddened and disappointed concerning the hate, intolerance, and lack of humanity I’ve witnessed in the men and women hiking through life with me.


What’s something you did consistently, completed, or achieved this year that made you feel so proud of yourself?

Time and again, former students would call me with disappointment that they had failed the most important exam of their lives. And my heart wept each and every time for them. I knew that it wasn’t simply that they hadn’t studied or that they didn’t know the material. I was sure it was an anxiety issue or an overthinking it type of problem.

Thus, I’ve had a dream for many years to coach new graduates about how to pass the NCLEX. Because I loved helping these former students who called me seeking my assistance.

I desperately wanted to help more students in a coaching capacity through my business.

But I was freaked out about creating an NCLEX success program, of putting myself out there in this way.

The mean girl in my head showed up to taunt me again and again with questions like, “What if it fails?” “What if no one signs up?” “What if you don’t really know what you’re doing?”

“Terror clawed at me every day.”

After some encouragement from a friend, I created it anyway.

I have a deep abiding passion for serving students in this way. And the Universe showed up. I did not fail. Yes, it’s challenging to continually have to market to register people in the program but they are registering.

And the best part? My clients are passing the NCLEX!



What’s one thing you are FOR SURE not doing again—or not allowing to continue—next year?

I allowed fear to reign when creating my Inspired Professors Experience. The mean girl in my head showed up supremely. She was dressed to the nines, stiletto heels and all. She took up residence in my head. So much that it took me months to put the program together.

I’m disappointed that months went by where I didn’t serve those who need this program. All because of my fear. Yuck!

Never again.

I know that I will continue to experience fear. It’s part of the human condition. I know that I will feel fear down to my marrow. But I am no longer allowing fear to hold me back. I am taking action.

I am taking action. Despite fear. Before I’m ready. And with trust that the net will appear.

My reflection about how fear wrecked my productivity was the impetus for creating my Vision Board as well as my word (phrase) of 2017:

Take Action


What were a few of your favorite projects this year? (Favorite programs, services, articles, books, collaborations, personal art projects, home renovation projects, or… anything else?)

I love my NCLEX Success Coaching Program. I love helping nursing graduates overcome their fears, anxiety and doubts to successfully achieve their dreams. This is my 2017 desire for the Inspired Professors Experience as well.

I loved using my dad’s clothing to make Memory Bears for my children as my family Christmas craft.

I also love the members of my Faculty Connection Facebook group. They’re in it to win it.


Who—or what—inspired you this year?

Our youngest son, Will, began his doctoral program at Michigan University this past fall. I totally admire his tenacity to go for what he desires most.

I am inspired by my clients who don’t give up their dreams and work hard to achieve what they most desire.

Music inspires me, as you well know. I created a 2017 Playlist on Spotify and titled it 2017: The Year of Taking Action.  When I don’t feel like working. When I feel fear creep in. I crank up the volume and listen to my 2017: The Year of Taking Action playlist and get to work. Check it out. You too might be inspired to take action.



What’s a moment that made you think, “I can’t believe this is my real life”? Or “I need to stop right NOW and give thanks”?

This is the hardest question of all. Because you know how I feel about gratitude.

Clients calling or writing me about passing the NCLEX.

Or faculty who text or email me about their successes after working together.


There are countless moments (and I mean countless) that have caused me to STOP in my tracks to give thanks. Laughing with my bestie in North Carolina. Meeting members from the Dr. B.’s Faculty Connection Facebook group at the QSEN conference. The peacefulness with which my dad died. Numerous sunset skies. Sitting on the porch swing with my dog. Sunny days at the lake. Rainy days at the lake. Time with family.

Having these written memories of moments that were sad as well as happy is soothing and inspiring when I grapple with depressive thoughts. (Nope. It’s not always jolly here. Now there’s a naked truth, huh?)



What is the most important thing you learned when reflecting on 2017?