What are values?
Your values are what is most important to you in your life. We feel the most fulfilled when we are completely honoring our values.
The more in line a job is with our values, the more satisfied and fulfilled we will feel at that company, industry, sector, and/or role.
The more aware you are of your values, the more likely you are to land a role you will be happy in.
Likewise, successful team leaders are aware of their teams’ values. If you have no idea what’s most important to your team, best case scenario it will be harder to move them all in the same direction, and worst-case scenario you will lose them.
Values exist and are present in every aspect of our lives.
For instance, if one of your values is family, you won’t be happy in a job where you’re spending 70 hours a week at the office. If one of your values is travel, you won’t be happy in a job that keeps you in one place (and you will most likely be the one taking the most amount of vacation).
Values are extremely personal. No one can tell you what your values should be, and rarely does someone have the same exact values as another. If people all had the same values, everyone would have the same job and life path. As David Floyd said, “You don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same tune”.
How to identify your values
(Note: Set aside around 30 minutes to do this, and find something to take notes with)
Tip: Really listen to what you know in your heart to be true, not what anyone else has said to you about you.
- List the times you were happiest in life.
- List the times you were happiest at work.
Think: What were you doing? Who was there? What was the situation? What particular set of skills of yours did you get to use?
- List the times you felt most motivated in your life.
- List the times you felt most motivated in your career.
Listen to your intuition: What moments speak the loudest to you?
- When have you felt the proudest in your life?
- When have you felt the proudest in your career?
Again, listen to your intuition without judgment.
Based on the things you have written down, go through the list below and write down every word that speaks to you the most.
These are absolutely personal to you, so feel free to add in any words you don’t see on this list. You will most likely choose more than 6.
- Be mindful of whether you’re choosing something someone else told you should be important to you.
- Be aware of whether you’re writing a word down because you had a bad experience in the past, and you are afraid of not having this particular thing in the future. We want to stay away from fear-based values.
You can find an exhaustive list of values here.
Now, look at all the words you’ve written down.
Some of those words may mean the same things. Group those words together and choose the one out of those groups that speak to you the most. If your new list is longer than 6 words, look at that list and again choose the words that are the most important to you.
You should end up with 3-6 words. These are your core values. Each of these words will have a specific meaning that is personal to you. Others may not get the same meaning from them, and that’s normal.
What to do with your values
Remember your core values when searching for a new job.
Pay attention to how much each value is honored when you’re considering a new offer or changing your industry. If you’ve written down ‘community’ or ‘relationships’ as a core value, look at how that translates to your work life. Do you have a supportive team around you? If ‘beauty’ is one of your core values, you might reconsider your career in the banking industry. If you’ve put down ‘structure’, you may feel really frustrated at a startup. If ‘excitement’ is one of your values but you’re not really excited by what you do for a living, it would make sense you may feel something in your life is missing.
These values should be honored in the new job you interview for, as whatever offer you choose will take a huge amount of time out of your day and life. You may choose to honor a certain value outside of your working hours, and that’s entirely up to you.
Put your core values somewhere you’ll see them every day.
Your values may stay consistent throughout your lifetime, or they will shift slightly as you get older and other things change. For this reason, it’s important to revisit them often. They are a part of you and are guidelines for every major decision you will make in life.