This paper will essentially cover my Journey to achieving my ideal self. I will first talk about how I arrived at the place I am currently at today, and what life events and motivational forces have brought me here. I will then discuss where I am currently at now in my pursuit of achieving my ultimate goal in life and how my personal version of my ideal self is one my strongest motivating factors that keeps me going everyday. Finally, I will discuss what I expect to learn along my journey that will hopefully mold me into the man and the medical professional that I hope to one day become, and one that my family and friends can be proud of. Within this paper I will reference the works of Richard E. Boyatzis, Stephen Covey and Peter Ducker, all of whom are well known experts with topics regarding change, the ideal self, and management of careers.
How Did I Get Here?
I am grateful to be able to say that I am currently exactly where I want to be in my life right now. My journey of getting to my current destination and the hardships that I had to overcome to get here has encompassed both the most challenging and the most meaningful events in my life. One of my favorite quotes by Mark Twain reads “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.”. For me, the day I found out why came near the end of my senior year of high school, when my very first girlfriend passed away at the age of 18 due to an advanced brain tumor. I had always known that I wanted to spend my life studying some type of medicine or health related science, as no other career field or lifestyle seemed to have such a gravitational effect on me. Although I was certain from a young age that I wanted to work in healthcare and play a key role in peoples recovery from illness, I had no idea which route I wanted to take until I had this experience with my girlfriend. While my girlfriend was going through her radiation therapy treatments, she always spoke so highly of how the therapists were treating and communicating with her. I was so grateful for their compassion towards her and their ability to have her walk out of the treatment room some days with a smile on her face, even on the days when she seemed to be in the most pain.
It’s inevitable to feel somewhat helpless when the one you care about most has ended up with terminal cancer, and I remember wishing that I was apart of the radiation therapy team so I could at least feel like I was helping her get better in some way. I had an opportunity to speak with one of the therapists privately about how the treatment worked, and I quickly became fascinated and somewhat obsessed with the science behind it and immediately wanted to figure out ways that I could enhance this technology to make it even better, so that more lives could be saved and more advanced tumors could be treated curatively. As a young 18 year old man whose just lost the first love of his life, hearing my peer’s attempts to comfort me with phrases like “This is all a part of God’s plan” or “God works in mysterious ways” proved to have no effect other than to agitate me. But after a year of deep contemplation and soul searching, I began to reconnect with my faith, and I did indeed come to the conclusion that there could be a deeper meaning in this. I truly believe that one of the underlying meanings of this tragic event was for God or the universe at large to instill within me an impenetrable resolve to use my innate skills and passion for health science to pursue a career in which I can be at the frontier of cancer treatment and research, and to become apart of a team of like-minded individuals who are pursuing that very same goal.
Where Am I Now?
Right now, I feel as though I am exactly where I am meant to be. I am a student at Loma Linda University and am apart of the Radiation Therapy Program, which is undoubtedly one of the best programs in the nation for this field of study. I’ve moved here from my hometown in Northern California to pursue this Bachelor’s Degree in Radiation Therapy and haven’t looked back since. I am quickly realizing how much of a difference earning a Bachelor’s degree is compared to earning an associates degree or a simple certification in some specified field. I am loving the challenge however and look forward to always doing my best to ensure that I will see the day where I achieve my goal and become my ideal self. According to Boyatzis (2006) in his conceptual paper regarding the ideal self as a driver of intentional change “The ideal self (IS) is an evolving, motivational core within the self, focusing a person’s desires and hope, aspirations and dreams, purpose and calling.” (p. 625). Boyatzis also found that “The ideal self is a primary source of positive affect and psychophysiological arousal helping provide the drive for intentional change.” and that it is composed of three major components: “ An image of a desired future; hope (and its constituents, self-efficacy and optimism); and a comprehensive sense of one’s core identity (past strengths, traits, and other enduring dispositions).” (p. 624). My desired image of the future is one where I am at the forefront of cancer treatment, and to ultimately work in a facility with the most advanced equipment used to treat people with terminal diseases such as cancer. I hope to grow into the radiation therapist that myself, my family, and my late girlfriend would all be proud of. In order for me to achieve this version of my ideal self, I understand that a strong motivation and active drive is absolutely essential in order for me to land the best job possible that will allow me to fulfill my truest purpose. Stephen R. Covey illustrated this importance in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change when he wrote “People who end up with the good jobs are the proactive ones who are solutions to problems, not problems themselves, who seize the initiative to do whatever is necessary, consistent with correct principles, to get the job done.” (1989).
What do I Expect to Learn?
Now that I have finally arrived at my university of choice and completed one of many milestones in my pursuit to fulfill my truest ambition, the next step for me is to embrace the education that I am receiving so that I can become the best radiation therapist that I could possibly be. I expect to learn my strengths and weaknesses as it relates to fulfilling all the necessary job duties required of a radiation therapist, and to actively work on strengthening those weaknesses so that I can perform treatments with perfect accuracy and precision while providing compassionate, genuine patient care. In his book Managing Oneself, Peter Drucker claims that “Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves – their strengths, their values, and how they best perform.” (2008). With this principle in mind, I expect to learn about all aspects of myself during my time here at Loma Linda University in hopes of using this acquired self-knowledge to perform my job to the best of my abilities.
While it is important for one to look toward the future and set achievable goals for oneself, I believe that it’s equally important, perhaps even more important, to focus ones energy on the present moment and work on those things that can be done right now. In the same book, Drucker suggests that “It is rarely possible—or even particularly fruitful—to look too far ahead. A plan can usually cover no more than 18 months and still be reasonably clear and specific. So the question in most cases should be, Where and how can I achieve results that will make a difference within the next year and a half?”. Keeping this theory in mind, I intend to consistently stress the importance of presence to myself, because no one can possibly predict their future in its entirety and attempting to do so may prove detrimental to personal development. I know that I am at the place that will allow me to achieve my desired results and that in order to be successful, all that I need to do is give my best effort, no more and no less, in all of my academic coursework and during my training at various clinical sites. When answering the question of where and how you can achieve results that will make a difference, Drucker goes on describing how the answer must balance several different things, “First, the results should be hard to achieve. Second, the results should be meaningful. They should make a difference. Finally, results should be visible and, if at all possible, measurable. From this will come a course of action: what to do, where and how to start, and what goals and deadlines to set.” (2008). I know that receiving my Bachelor’s Degree in Radiation Therapy is not going to be easy, it wont just be handed to me. I am already experiencing the struggles of trying to balance living on my own, working as much as possible to provide for myself and fund my education, and enduring long nights of studying to make sure that I’m learning all of the information necessary to provide great service to my patients in the future. But despite the difficulties, the results I will receive from this hard work will one day make all the difference in someone else’s life who is suffering from cancer which is extremely meaningful to me. My results will be measurable by the grades I will earn in my courses and by the impact I show that I can have on a patients life by making each day of their treatment a good day where they feel at ease and relaxed.
In conclusion, I have arrived at the destination and current life situation I am in today due to losing the person that was dearest to me to cancer. This inspired me to dedicate myself to understanding this disease that can be often times difficult to beat and has the ability to take lives at such a young age, and to pour my heart and soul into working with the leading technologies to join the fight against this unfortunate illness. This event led me to pursue an education at Loma Linda University so that I can learn from the best that there is while I continue to learn about myself as well, in hopes that I can become the most well-rounded radiation therapist that I can be. Finally, I expect to learn all that there is about the field of radiation therapy so that I can start making valuable contributions in the field and make a positive impact on peoples lives. I envision my future self working at one of the most respected and technologically advanced cancer treatment centers in the country, while providing such genuine and empathetic patient care that it will cause my patients to feel like they aren’t being treated for coming down with a deadly disease that may end their life. Rather, I wish to gain the ability to make patients feel as though they are at home when they come in for treatment, and have them leave each day with a smile on their face, and warmth in their hearts.