04 Apr Career Values Exercise
Career Values: An Exercise to Find Yours
This is the next part in the Career Pause series. Now we’ve looked at what’s working for you right now, let’s delve a bit deeper and assess whether you are living a life that is aligned with your career values. Why? Sometimes you may feel that something is a bit “off” – a job that just doesn’t feel right, a person that makes you feel nervous or ill at ease – but you’re not sure why. Often, this is because they are challenging your Values. Perhaps not enough to wake you up and start fighting for them, but enough for you to feel uncomfortable. The problem is that it’s so easy to go through life without even thinking about our true Values. What makes it even more complicated is that our Values may change. The Values you have as a parent are not going to be the same as those you had pre children.
Consequently, I recommend doing the following exercise on a regular basis, say every couple of years.
Hitting 50 was a time when my Values hugely changed. Of course, nothing was different to the week before when I was forty-nine, but I felt something shift, a sense of my own mortality and how much I wanted to fit into my life still. Health, once a value to which I only paid lip service, became one of my top Values. I started keeping up my classes which I had previously let slide when I felt too lazy or things got busy. I adopted a low carb diet, doubled the amount of water I was drinking, walked more rather than get the bus, drastically cut down on my alcohol and asked Alexa to set an alarm for every 40 minutes so that I got up from my desk and did a 5 minute yoga video from YouTube. Interestingly, once Health really was one of my values I was able to do this with little effort. Previously, this was the sort of thing I would barely be able to keep up for a week.
The Career Values Exercise
Take a notebook or a sheet of paper and think about the things that are really important in your life. Not possessions or people, but concepts. I’ve put together a list to get you thinking, but this isn’t exhaustive. You can put your own in here if something comes to mind.
I’d like you to write down twenty that resonate with you. If you can’t reach 20 that’s fine, but if you have more than 20, I want you to get that number down to 20. Some words may mean very similar things: bravery and fearlessness for instance. Choose the one that resonates most with you. If you’re not quite sure on the definition of a word, but you feel it applies, just go with what that word means to you.
Look here for a good list of values, but feel free to add your own.
Interpreting the Data
Once you’ve got your 20 Values I’d like you to half those and pick the ten that resonate the most. Here’s a list I put together that describe where I am today.
Health, Family, Growth, Freedom, Peace, Creativity, Learning, Fun, Connection, Clarity.
I’ve done this often enough that they are actually in order, my current top value at the start of the list. I’d like you to do the same too, ordering your values so that you can see which ones matter more.
How to use your Values
I’d like you to look upon your values on a regular basis so copy them out and out them somewhere you will see them: on the wall next to your desk, in your diary, on your fridge…whatever works for you!
Think back over your life to jobs that you’ve loved and jobs you’ve hated. How do they stack up against your values? Did the job you hated stifle your creativity while the jobs you loved let it have free reign. How about people? Does someone irritate you because their emails and other forms of communication lack clarity? Can you trace clases or past feelings of discomfort to a mismatch in values?
It almost goes without saying that if you are thinking of moving to a different organisation or career it is vital that you consider the Values you will find waiting for you on the other side, and whether they will serve against yours. Contact me to go through this process together.