In my first year in the VCU DPT program, we compared 21 given values to determine our top three. This activity was harder than I first expected. I thought I had a pretty strong notion of what was most important to me. However I soon found that there are many things in life I hold closely and it was a challenge to differentiate between the things I cherish. All in all, I believe the activity did reveal my three most important values: health, pleasure, and achievement.
Health is my top value because I believe without health, one cannot attain any of the other 21 values listed. Conversely, when we are in good health, other aspects of our life seamlessly start to fall into place. As a competitive runner I have experienced both sides of this equation and have proven it to be true. When I was injured and had to undergo surgery, I found my emotional well being, relationships with others, and motivation deteriorated alongside the decay of my physical health. But when I am in peak fitness, I find I can think with more clarity, treat others with greater empathy, and pursue new areas of life. Knowing the importance of health, I have prioritized it by eating healthy, sleeping plentifully, and moving abundantly. I look forward to a future in physical therapy where I can restore people’s health and therefore improve their quality of life.
Pleasure is also something very valuable to me. I am not a “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” supporter. I believe “what makes you happy makes you stronger”. I do not believe the goal in life is to sacrifice and endure in order to reach the top, rather I believe life is meant to be lived and enjoyed to the fullest and the top will be reached organically. I can spread this value to patient’s by connecting their therapy to what brings them pleasure. If playing with their grandchildren fills them with happiness, I can remind them of that joy when they are doing their exercises. This way they feel energized and have a healthy motivation.
Finally my third value is achievement. I find great satisfaction in setting meaningful goals and establishing a path to that goal. Having direction and purpose brings me more fulfillment than the end result. In running, my favorite part of the season is the beginning because that is when the potential is greatest. I get to dream up my goals and map out my plan of action. By the time the final race comes around, I find solace in knowing I have done everything I could to prepare for that moment and the race will take care of itself. This value is important to instill in my patients because many times the end result is out of our control but we must take action in the process. Helping my patient’s come to the realization that achievement is not black and white but rather a continuum will open the doors to them having a more successful outcome.
Health, pleasure, and achievement have guided my decisions in life and will continue to do so in the future. I look forward to my future in physical therapy where I can implement these values in order to help others.