Career choice
Ryan

Ryan

The 3 P’s to Help with Your Career Choice

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I recently came across a YouTube video by Justin Sung (video at the end of this post) about how one should consider their passion, purpose, and personality when it comes to choosing the right career path. 

Using these 3 P’s made me think about the details regarding how well-fitted or not-so-well-fitted I am to my career as an optometrist, and I am hoping it will give you some guidance as well. 

We should look at taking all of these 3 P’s into consideration when selecting a career as we cannot base this solely on passion as many young people seem to do. Your sense of purpose in life and your personality can be just as important when it comes to choosing a career. 

And we will see why with my case.

Career Choice
Passion, Purpose, Personality of career choice

About Me

I am a registered optometrist practising full-time. My career path began in late 2011 when I was put in a position to choose between engineering and optometry after failing to gain entrance into medical school. 

Engineering? What type of engineering? 

Optometry? What is optometry? 

These were the questions I was asking only a few weeks before the applications for these courses closed. 

That’s right. 

I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. 

Having said that, this is my 5th year in practice and I do not regret becoming an optometrist at all. I think it is a great career.

However, if I reflect on how my sense of purpose, passion and personality fit into this career, perhaps I am not the ideal person for this job. I am not saying that I am unsuitable for optometry, in fact, I think that I am quite suitable but I would not say that I am close to the ideal.

If I could go back in time with the knowledge and life experience that I have got now I am not sure that I would know which career path to choose. I am too much of an idealist and perfectionist to feel completely confident about my career choice. Chances are that I may end up doing optometry again, but let’s see how the 3 P’s may or may not guide me to the same choice.

Do I fit the characteristics suitable for an optometrist? 

What are the characteristics that optometrists need to have? 

This is probably a philosophical question worthy of a totally separate post for another day… What I would like to talk about today is what I have found from personal experience that makes me suitable or not-so-suitable for being an optometrist.

Let’s explore this using the 3 P’s. This may not be the perfect method but from my personal experience this method seems quite accurate.

Passion

Career Choice

I have a whole variety of interests including and not limited to English literature, history, philosophy, biology, physics and mathematics. With so many different areas of interest it makes it difficult for me to choose just one area to pick. 

Also, I find often that having deep interest and profound knowledge in one area leads to being interested in another as so many of these different disciplines are in one way or another linked to each other. 

Because I am interested in learning about so many different fields, it makes me think that I have a great passion for knowledge in general.

Passion is not static. Passion can change over time.

It can grow as your knowledge in a topic increases. The more I learnt about the eyes the more I became interested 

What I am interested in now is not necessarily what I will be interested in when I am 50.

An optometrist requires a thirst for knowledge for science and mathematics. The field is constantly changing with new methods and interventions being developed. 

Many tests that optometrist perform require a high attention to detail as well. I am thinking that my passions line up with my career in optometry, but we know that we cannot rely on passion alone.

Personality

Career Choice

Basic biology and physics courses are prerequisites for entering the optometry degree. On the other hand, the characteristic of being interested in biology and physics is not a huge part of what is required to carry out the daily tasks as an optometrist. 

Optometry is a profession where you are meeting new people all the time. You are put into situations where you have to interact with other people. These are mostly patients or customers but also includes your team members who you work with. You do not have to be an extrovert but you will need the energy to meet and deal with various people each day.

According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I currently classify as “the advocate”, being introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging (INFJ). 

I am introverted. That does not mean I enjoy hiding in my room all day.

It means I enjoy engaging in discussions with people one-on-one but generally only value communications with a purpose or meaning and I generally steer away from unnecessary small talk. 

Speaking one-on-one as opposed to speaking to a group of people of more than two generally allows me to get deeper into the topic of discussion and listen to the other person’s thoughts more. I am able to better understand the other person. 

This personality trait works in my favour in the optometry room as the vast majority of conversations in the room are one-on-one and patients generally appreciate it when I explain things in detail about their eyes. 

Where I do not think it suits me so well is that I feel forced to engage in small talk very often as I am constantly dealing with people; I like to get straight into it and talk about things that are meaningful and worthy of discussion. 

I do not mind a bit of small talk as it helps to build rapport with the patient. Being an introvert however, I do run out of energy relatively quickly after interacting with a lot of people. This is quite limiting about myself at the end of a busy day at work.

I naturally observe and analyse people. I don’t really do this actively, it is like my brain automatically and involuntarily does it for me in order to guide me so that I can act or talk accordingly and appropriately depending on who this person I am interacting with seems to be. This can be quite tiring if you are in a role where you are interacting with people all day.

Another part of my personality is that I have extroverted feelings and great intuition. This certainly helps when trying to figure out what the other person is thinking or what sort of a person they are. Having said all this, I like to think in an empathetic way and do have genuine interest in listening to the patient. I also like the feeling that I can help these people with the knowledge I have. This is rewarding in itself.

I would encourage you to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. There are many test versions. For example:

  • MBTIonline – which is a paid test but the funding supports further research
  • Free Personality Test – which is free, but may not give you the most accurate result

Taking the paid version or free is up to you; remember that this is an investment on yourself and career path. So, taking the time to invest and learn more about your personality can help you in the long run, which is a return on that investment.

Purpose

I like to know that everything I do in life has meaning. I would ideally be constantly doing something with a purpose. 

Ironically, I do procrastinate from time to time. In my defence however, it is not easy to think of things to do that I find meaningful all the time. This makes it difficult for me to make a start on something (maybe I should start writing more?).

This universe is large and our mere existence seems futile. Simply existing to live is not enough and we must apply meaning to our lives. So far, I am at this belief. 

Applying a sense of purpose to my life is important otherwise my life would have no meaning. The purpose I apply to my life is not a single extraordinary thing. I try to live by my values and apply purpose to what I do as I live my life.

The main values, out of many, that I consider to be important in life are love, kindness and forgiveness, and these help me to be a caring person. An optometrist needs to have excellent clinical knowledge but also needs to be able to think in the shoes of the patient in order to truly understand  the patient’s concerns. 

Not only do patients generally appreciate caring practitioners, but they will often end up with better outcomes when the practitioner truly cares for them as this leaves less room for miscommunication. 

When I see a patient I would explain the relevant clinical information to the patient and advise them of my recommendations based on evidence or science in order for the patient to be able to make an informed decision for themselves. 

This cannot be executed well if there is insufficient communication between the patient and the practitioner, and effective communication would be very difficult if the practitioner did not care about the patient.

What do you value?

Your values drive you purpose. It is important that your values are aligned with your career. When they do align, there is a strong harmony.

Conclusion

With all that said, I do think that my passion, personality and purpose line up well with optometry but not perfectly.

I think that a career somewhere in the field of education may be better suited for me where I get to help people with self-development, not only teaching knowledge and facts but discussing different philosophical ideas and helping people to think or live by logic.

Can I combine what I currently do now, optometry, with a more ideal career choice of education to mould it into something more ideal for myself? I hope I can do it with the writing you have read today.

I believe that everyone should aim to be the best they can be, to become a good person… But what makes a good person anyway?

Justin Sung is a ex-doctor and runs JTT, which is a social enterprise helping medical students. He has material showing insight into career expectations that expand beyond medicine.

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