What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up? How To Find Your Career Ideology
By Alessandro Mortellaro
It comes as no surprise to hear that college life is difficult, although everyone’s experience is different. On top of having to worry about traditional academic problems, such as deadlines and tests, many students have questions about their future on their minds, including “Is all this hard work worth it?”, “What if I don’t end up liking what I’m doing?”, “What if I don’t have any motivation?”, and “ what if I don’t know what I want to do?” If these sound familiar, fear not, for medical doctor Henry Coopersmith has much to say about career ideologies, how to protect yours, and if it’s okay not to have one.
Simply put, one’s ideology is the thing they wish to accomplish regarding their career. It is their motivation—the driving force in their endeavours. Whatever makes one’s job worth all the hard work and gets them out of bed in the morning can be defined by their career ideology. If you read that and realized that you’re not incredibly passionate about what you’re presently studying, or what it might lead to in the future, you’ll be relieved to hear that that’s okay.
According to Dr. Coopersmith, “A lot of times your career choices are better off without passion. You can take things easy, you can focus on your own things, as opposed to your career, business, or job.” It goes without saying that a job requires a lot of care and commitment, but the importance of passion regarding it is subjective. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a career path simply for its paychecks.
"It’s important to keep in mind that your dream job won’t necessarily be what you expect it to be. It is very common for ideologies to be challenged."
It may come as a relief to hear that the career you think you’ll pursue for the rest of your life may change. It’s imperative to remember that people change, and you will too. Being a doctor with decades of experience, Coopersmith knows what this is like. He says his original career ideology didn’t include medicine: “At first, I started at law school. When I was in law school I realized that [...] I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life. So, I was fortunate enough to have the chance to go to medical school.” During that change from law to medicine, he discovered that he could help people via his career, and that is what became his “positive reinforcement”. Don’t assume that you’re doomed to work in a career you won’t like! We don’t know what the future holds.
If you’re worried about whether or not you’ll always be motivated in your career, it’s important to keep in mind that your dream job won’t necessarily be what you expect it to be. It is very common for ideologies to be challenged. Trials and tribulations in the workforce push people to lose sight of why they started the career they were once so passionate about. Coopersmith mentions that doctors who experience this often become angry and cynical; they “may change a lot of the altruistic things that got them into the business in the first place.”
Despite how difficult it may seem to pursue a life you think is worth living, it’s important to keep in mind that no challenge should get in the way of an ideology that you think is achievable through the path you’re choosing. Challenges or not, we are always changing. According to Coopersmith, “Therein lies the constant give-and-take of the work ideal. Things may be good but they change! Like any relationship, you may change, your needs may change, the job may change, and the needs of the job may change. The overall dimensions of the job may change. There’s always going to be change.” He finishes by saying, “The best case scenario is that our ideology doesn’t change. It’s always what we hope and wish for.”
Coopersmith offers a thought-provoking piece of advice: “It’s important to remember to keep trying, because the world is always changing; nothing is guaranteed to stay the same. It’s also wise to always keep an option open in case things don’t work out. You can try something else; you shouldn’t lose your passion or compromise it to such a point where you’re staying in a job for all the wrong reasons.” To put it simply, we shouldn’t feel pressured to stick to one life path. Most of us have grown up being asked what we want to be when we grow up, when in reality, we never cease to grow up.