“I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values – and follow my own moral compass – then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.” – Michelle Obama
Values are the beliefs, principles and ideals that drive your behavior, and crucially, your decision making. They’re the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. Your values are a fundamental part of who you are, and they’re completely unique to you.
When the things that you do and the way you behave match your values, life is usually good – you’re satisfied and content. But when these don’t align with your personal values, that’s when things feel… wrong. This can be a real source of unhappiness. This is why when you’re thinking about your career, it’s essential that you understand your values.
How your values help you
Act as your career compass. When you’re clear on your values you can use them to guide your decision making. You make decisions that align with your values and say no to the things that don’t. They can give you a sense of direction when you’re stuck on what to do next. Knowing what’s truly important to you enables you to set personal and professional goals and know where you want to go, and then your values can act as the ‘compass’ to guide you on how to get there.
Improve your relationships. Sharing values helps you to communicate more effectively with others. If you know what’s important to somebody, and they know what’s important to you, this can help you articulate thoughts and feelings in a way that’s more likely to be understood and respected. When people share similar values, they’re more likely to have a positive and productive relationship.
Find happiness at work. When you live in accordance with your values, you feel more fulfilled and satisfied with your life. When you work in an environment that doesn’t align with your values, you have a sense of inner conflict, which drives poor behaviours, which drives unhappiness. Knowing your values allows you to bring your whole self to work and make choices that will leave you feeling more content with your career.
How your values are formed
You start forming your values from the moment you’re born. In your early years you absorb the world around you, mostly without question. This is when you learn a sense of right and wrong. It’s often referred to as the ‘imprint period’ or ‘spongey phase’.
You then move into what’s known as the ‘modelling period’ or ‘copy-cat phase’ between the ages of 8 and 13 years old. Here you’ll be trying lots of different behaviours out, imitating those around you who hold appeal.
As you enter your teenage years more fully, you enter the ‘rebel phase’ or ‘socialisation period’. Between the ages of 14 and 21 you drastically increase the number of people you communicate regularly with, so naturally you start to test out more ideas and behaviours to see what matters to you most. Often this period is a phase of personal conflict as you may have started to challenge some previously help beliefs you formed when you were younger.
As you move into your early twenties, your values are generally fully formed. From this point on they start to influence your consistent behaviour and feelings of happiness or conflict.
Evergreen, or ever changing?
Whilst your values are generally built throughout your early development, they can still change over time. They’re created through a combination of your environment, your role models, your lived experiences and your cognitive development; therefore as you gain new experiences, perspectives, and insights – your values may change.
Identifying your values
Most people struggle to articulate their values, so if this is a completely new concept to you; don’t worry, it is for a lot of us. It takes time to really understand yours, and even longer to learn how to make them work for you at work. But it’s worth the effort. Values are the thing that have the most transformational impact with regards to taking control of your career, finding happiness, and achieving success.
By exploring the materials below, and completing the short guided exercises coming next week, this module will help you to discover what your values are, and how to use them to be happier at work.
Recommended Read: Find Your Why – Simon Sinek
Recommended Watch: Core Values – Your Inner Compass (14 mins)
Recommended Listen: How Knowing Your Values Unlocks Career Happiness (39 mins)
Brand new further learning💥
Build Your Life with Your Values (10 mins)
Why Values Matter (10 mins)
Finding and Living By Your Values (64 mins)
Do You Know Your Values? (17 mins)
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