You know what it feels like, I am sure, when something feels so right and so natural to you. Conversely, I’m also sure you have already experienced the opposite: when you felt upset or even angry to have to please someone else or to have to work to another agenda. Many of us go through life without taking the time to identify what really matters to us. Not identifying your work values will diminish your chances of ultimately being satisfied with your career or job. See why it is imperative to identify your core career values that can be key to clarifying your career path.

1- If you don’t know who you are, you can’t really be true to yourself. Your values are who you are, not who you think you should be. Don’t list the values that society, parents, friends, colleagues … say you should-have, could-have or ought-to have in life. Rather, mention the ones that are important to you. Our values are unique to each of us. They are like a compass, pointing the right direction to us and making sure we stay true to ourselves.

People work for different reasons. Most of us work for money, to pay our bills or meet our needs, but the amount of financial security and income can differ for each of us. For others, contribution is also important. Some of us like to do it from time to time, as others like to do this for most of their time. When you are true to your values, life and work is good and fulfilling. Living your values means that you words match your deeds, which match your beliefs. When you are living in harmony with your values, you naturally have more energy.

2 – It makes decision-making easier. Some people know exactly what kind of work they want to do. However, a lot of us don’t have this conviction. When you need to make a decision, I advise you to align it with your values – weighing the pros and cons, see also the consequences – which will bring clarity and help you take the right decisions, while factoring in the different components that you have right now. Decision-making will become less complicated and painful.

Imagine you are offered a new position at work with a meaningful pay rise but longer working hours as you must work with a team in several time zones and one of your strongest values is ‘family.’ If you were to accept this new job, you would feel off-balance after a while regardless of the financial benefit it offers you.

3 – It helps you identify work environments/ situations, people, and things that don’t support those values. Sometimes situations, people or things make you uncomfortable. Yet you can’t point out why that is. Very often the negative emotions they evoke are caused by a value that comes under threat. If you don’t understand that, and if you don’t know which value is being threatened, you use valuable energy on defending or protecting yourself.

4 – It helps you identify work environment/ situations, people and things that you want in your life, not to mention how you want to thrive in your career. Being clear about what your values are allows you to be proactive, seek situations/ environments, people and things that support those values. It puts you in charge of your career rather than at the mercy of it. It helps you design a plan of exactly how you want to see your next career step.

5 – It gives you an incredible sense of peace. We all experience from time-to-time challenges and discouragement.Clarifying your values and then living your career & life in harmony with those values provides you with inner peace and tranquillity that enables you to move confidently through life and become more resilient. Just knowing what they are will bring you one step closer to this.

6 – It enables you to stop reacting and start responding. This a critical skill certainly during stressful situations. We all have those times when we blow a fuse. Whether you have identified your values or not, you always know when you ‘re not being true to yourself. When you become clear about your values it will help you plan appropriate responses in times of stress, to respond rather than to react defensively.

7 – It provides a great benchmark for creating your goals. When a goal is in harmony with your values, the natural energy/motivation around it enables you to take action effortlessly, when it is needed – the time just flows. Our values are like our compass, they help us stay on track.

8 – It enables you to get rid of goals that aren’t really right for you and to use your time more wisely. Almost every individual has one common request – more time. So, choose carefully how you want to invest your time. Things that aren’t important to you often take up time. Take a close look at the goals that you have had for a while now. Eliminate the ‘should’ in your life and let them go. Focus on the goals that you really want to achieve and chose carefully how you want to invest your time.

9 – It enables you to be very clear about the standards you have set for yourself. Standards are behaviour patterns that you set for yourself, and by behaving in that way you are role modelling the behaviour you would like to see exemplified in your team. They are the expression of your values in your everyday work life.

10 – It enables you to be very clear about the boundaries you need to set for others‘ behaviour. Your boundaries are simply what you say yes to and what you say no to. The type of behaviour that is least acceptable to you is that which violates your values. Clarity around your values fosters genuine painless relationships. You are not trying to change people; you are just clear about the behaviour that’s acceptable around you.

When you evaluate a job offer, make sure the employer’s culture is in line with what you find important. For example, if independence is something you feel strongly about, look at jobs where you can work and make decisions on your own.

A simple way of identifying your values is to think of peak experiences in your professional or personal life when you felt on top of things and completely yourself. By reflecting on what aspects of those experiences felt important, you can begin to identify what the things you value the most are. When a client shares great work experiences from the past, as a career coach, I help him/her understand how his/her values emerged and were fulfilled.

This week, become aware of when you feel that work life sucks – what value are you not true to ? Also become aware of when life feels wonderful – what value are you true to? Gain clarity about who you are and what you stand for.  The key point to keep in mind, committing to and applying your values releases fresh energies, which attract success, achievement, and well-being.

Roy Disney once said, “It’s not hard to make decisions? when you know what your values are.” If you are in touch with your true values, how would that change your career path and even your life?

It is important to note that while your values play an essential role in your career choice, you must also look at your other attributes such as skills, interests, strengths … Before you determine where you want to go, you must first know who you are.

Convinced? Let’s move on and book an online session to identify your core career values. I’m pretty sure you will have some haha moments.

Have a great day.

By Marie Dewulf