Dr. Alison R. Tendler

By Dr. Alison R. Tendler

Finding Joy in a Career you Love

Finding Joy in a Career you Love 612 1024 Alison Tendler

People often ask me how I found my career. How did I know what I wanted to do with my life? How did I find my drive, and more importantly, how do I keep it from day to day?

Before I went to college, I always thought I might go into medicine, but I honestly cannot say where that came from. I was always good at science and math. I loved learning, and I loved exceeding. But the decision to go into medicine? That was a God thing. I consider myself a semi-perfectionist, and I’ve always been high-achieving. To many, medicine seems like a natural fit for someone with these traits. But even as a young person thinking about my future, I knew I did not want my career to define me.

The thought of going into medicine scared me a little. How did people have a life outside of a career in medicine?

When it was time to focus seriously on deciding my future career aspirations, I did not exactly know WHAT I wanted to do, but I did know HOW I wanted to FEEL.

Here’s what I did know: I always knew that I wanted to be self-sufficient in life. I knew I didn’t want to have to rely on other people to support me and my family. I wanted to do something that aligned with my values, and my love of people. While a career in medicine was always on my heart, I also knew it wasn’t a guarantee.

As a young college student, I trusted. I trusted that even though I chose a school that was not well-known for its pre-medicine program, it could still happen for me. I told myself that my life would not be dictated by outside sources and that if I was meant to be in medicine, it would be because of me: my skills, my dedication, and my hard work. I trusted that if I was passionate and worked hard, if I got involved and showed that I cared about my future, that goodness would find its way to me.

So for the better part of my college experience, I did everything I could to make my life what I wanted it to be. I knew I couldn’t just sit and let my future find me, so I had to proactively seek ways to find my best fit. I shadowed physicians whenever I could, and I sought opportunities to visit with people in my potential career field. When I observed and listened to these colleagues, I asked myself, “Do they seem happy? Are they able to live the life they want outside of their career? Will my future career allow me to be whole in my life?”

Not knowing exactly where the decision to go into medicine came from has followed me through many of the decisions in my life. Following your intuition and inner guidance, even when it may not make sense, can lead to some of the best, most life-changing decisions. Sometimes it’s knowing what you DON’T want to do. And that’s ok too. Even though it can feel scary to not have things perfectly planned in order to know “what’s next”, staying open to the gentle nudges from your inner knowing can lead you to staying open to many opportunities that may find you. I firmly believe that people are so much more than what happens during work hours. We all have multiple goals and passions, and finding a way to meld who you are both in and out of your career is non-negotiable.

I pray that you find your dream job. While work is not your identity, it is an inevitable part of life. Should you love your job? Ideally, yes. Should it align with your goals and passions? Absolutely. Will you be forced to make some hard choices along the way? No question. Will you make the wrong choice sometimes? Probably. Even if you find your dream career, is every day going to be fun and easy? Heck no.

But what if your dream job doesn’t work out? Well, friends, that is exactly why it is important to maintain a sense of self outside of the four walls of your office. While you may not always have your career, you will always have something more important…you will always have YOU. Your goals, your passions, your values, your hopes, your dreams, and your experiences. These make you… YOU. And at the end of the day, after the ebb and flow of the human experience, when you strip away all the external influences of your life, YOU are all you have left.

So be kind to yourself, nurture yourself, and make sure that you are proud of the person you are and the person you have yet to become.