Why did you accept your latest job? Was it based on high salary, promotion prospects, and location? Sometimes we will draw up a list of what we want in a job but not everyone considers their values.
Understanding our values holds significant importance. I’ll suggest ways to assess and delve deeper into this concept. You can explore how well your values align with your current job and determine actions for any mismatches.
Many individuals overlook the importance of values or perceive them as a desirable yet nonessential aspect. They might engage in a values exercise during a personal development course but fail to follow through. These values often get stowed away without much consideration. Statistics suggest that fewer than 10% of individuals have thoroughly scrutinized their lives and the values steering their actions. Let’s aim to place you among that 10%.
What are values?
“Values guide our every decision and, therefore our destiny’, Anthony Robbins 1991
Values make up our belief system. These are what we consider most important in our life and are reflected in what we actually do with our time. They are unique to us. Values therefore guide us to make sound life and career decisions.
Understanding our values is not a one-off exercise. Our values can change over time, particularly as we have significant life changes including getting older.
I’ve noticed how my values have changed, over 11 years they have moved from
Denise – Sort 1
- Using my abilities
Denise – Sort 2
Denise (10 December 2023 – different assessment method)
- Meaningful work
How to assess values
You can look at a list found via a web search but there is a tendency to choose those we’d like to have rather than the ones that guide our life at this time. My preference is to use a card sort. I used to sell these but now I suggest people use an online card sort.
For many years I sold packs of values cards. I now have my clients using an online version (not created by me, and free) as this makes it easy to gain some clarity. It’s not the only one available but I like the style (you don’t want to just tick from a list) and it provides some information on your top five. I’m not an affiliate and you don’t need to pay for a report.
Personal Values Assessment
Once you click on the link, you will see a list of common values. Choose the top ten that you value the most. It keeps track and you can choose more than 10, but you then need to deselect so you are back to ten.
You will then have your top ten instantly shown to you in side-by-side pairs to force you to rank one or the other. This process continues until the site produces your top five values, in order from highest to lowest. You get these listed.
There is an option for a paid report, but it is not essential and if we work together, we would discuss these top values to help you understand them.
You know your values, now what?
Your core values are your top 5-10, the number is less important than knowing these are key to you. Once you understand these you want to see to what extent they are integrated into your life. It can be helpful to look at your wider life first before focusing on you at work.
As you identify your top values you will want to understand what these values mean to you, rather than a description in an exercise.
If work/life balance is important to you, what does it mean to you. The ability to work from home, switch off completely from work when you leave your workplace, being able to work flexibly to go to school events? Make a note against each value of why it is important to you.
Ask yourself the following questions for each of your core values:
- Why is this important to me?
- How do I define this value in the context of my life? This can be private to you; you don’t need to share with anyone.
- What activities or actions do I currently engage in that support this value?
- Where do I experience conflict with this value? What do I need to start doing, and more importantly, stop doing?
Consider looking back over your diary and bank statements to identify where you’ve invested your time and money. Then, reassess your values, focusing on how and where you spend your time and money. Compare the two lists and evaluate your priorities against your actual allocation of time and money. Spending very little time aligned with your top values can lead to stress, while investing most of your time in your lowest ranking values can also be a cause of stress.
Evaluate how your values are being met in the workplace. If you’re unhappy at work, this might be one of the contributing reasons for your dissatisfaction.
When they don’t match with your work
- Imagine a key value of Family. Having to travel overseas several times a year or having to work long hours and never getting home for your child’s bedtime.
- Imagine Integrity being important to you but working with a company that undertakes dodgy deals and looks to rip off the customer at every opportunity
- Imagine Recognition being important and working with an organization who only ever gives negative feedback, never praise.
In each case this mismatch is one reason for feeling unhappy. Is it possible to make some changes in your current job, If so, think about what you could do and aim to get them implemented? But it might not be possible, the 3 examples above are all from the same client, and we’re now working together on a plan for how to change.
But money is her 5th Value and is having a big influence on her career choices. It could mean she continues to make choices based on salary, and continues to not spend enough time with her family, and to stay working for a boss who never provides any recognition. Areas to be discussed in a coaching session.
As we progress in our career …
We need to keep focused on our values. We may choose a job which matches our values of service and contribution. However, as the years go by, we get promoted and stop working directly with clients. We move into a role which is focused more on strategy, meetings and procedures, so we’ve got the promotion and the status but moved away from what is core to who we are.