Knowing Your “Why”
What is your “why”?
Your “why” is the driving force for pursing a career in your field. It is what makes you so passionate about the work you are doing. This might be a story from your childhood that made you want to be a writer or a life altering experience that made you want to help children. Your “why” is why you want to get up every day and go to work. It is what drives you.
Why is knowing your “why” important?
Often as students when we are preparing for an interview or call with someone in our field, it can be very nerve-racking. That is normal and expected. However, something that has helped me to speak with confidence in interviews or informational calls with leaders in gerontology is being confident in my “why”. Knowing why I truly want to make a difference with older adults allows me to share my authentic self with others in the field. When you know in your head why you want to work in your field or what truly drives you to want the job you are going for, that is when you will make a lasting impression on the person you are speaking with. Nothing is more authentic than your reason for wanting to make a difference in the field you are interested in.
To give you an example of a “why” I will share my “why” and how it drives me every day. My grandmother had dementia for the last ten years of her life and was also hard of hearing. I spent a lot of time helping my mom take care of her at a young age. I can remember her going to the hospital for congestive heart failure and being very confused about where she was. She would scream and yell and kick and thrash against the hands of the doctors who tried to hold her down to administer medication. When we arrived after the ambulance in the emergency room, my mom would run over and tell my Nana that she was in the hospital and these were doctors here to help her. She would immediately calm down and allow the doctors and nurses to treat her. I remember feeling frustrated even at such a young age that the emergency room personnel were not able to recognize her confusion and inability to hear. That experience as a young girl made me want to advocate for older adults in healthcare. I started volunteering in healthcare with older adults and knew from those experiences that I wanted to help older adults. My path to gerontology has not been straight-forward, but through the obstacles I have faced, my “why” has kept grounded and reminded me why I am doing this work. I remind myself that each older adult I interact with is someone’s parent or grandparent. I remind myself that this could be my grandparent and it drives me to be the best I can possibly be.
Knowing your “why” will help to keep you motivated even when it feels difficult. When you are submitting many job applications and it feels tedious and tiring or you are trying to get ready for an interview, knowing your “why” will ground you to the true reason you are meant to be in that position. Spend some time really thinking about your reason for wanting to pursue the degree or job you are seeking. This will only make you feel more confident and ultimately show in your conversations with others.