Taking Stock: Values and Career Decision Making


By: Brian Lambier


What are values? According to the website Vocabulary .com the word values is a noun and is explained in the following manner;

 “beliefs of a person or social group in which they have an emotional investment (either for or against something)”

 The website continues by saying;

“It’s no surprise that the word values comes from a word that means “to be worth something”: People often view their values as so precious that they’d be willing to fight for them. Sometimes they do fight for them…….. 

Our values act as our internal compass that provide us with direction in making decisions by;

  • Providing us with guideposts on what is important to us and how we want to live our lives including the type of careers we choose to aspire to.
  • Providing us with information to determine if we want to make a decision in a certain direction such as choosing an employer
  • Help us prioritize and resolve conflicts between two or more values.

If we look further at the definition provided , the key words and phrases that stand out are “belief”, “emotional investment”,  and “values can belong to both individuals and groups” and  I believe these all have  important relevance in how we as individuals make change as we navigate  through the often confusing career transition ‘swamp’. After all, work is approximately one- half of our waking hours each day and people appear to be most happy , fulfilled and satisfied with their choice of employers and career direction when what they do to earn a living is an authentic expression of their personal values. Finding congruence between our values and what we do in our life , careers as well as in the our relationships with our family,friends and associates. is demonstrated in the stories of our daily lives and have an impact in helping us to find a sense of purpose and  meaning in our lives.

So, how do we define our values?  Here are three quick and simple ways to start the answering the question what are my values.

1. Values Checklist: Reviewing a Values Checklist  like the one created by Thomas Leonard and Coach U and choosing the ten most important ones and then pairing that down by defining you top 5. From there you would describe situations in your life and career experience that you have demonstrated each of the 5 values and any associated  feelings surrounding those situations. Describing these situations helps us better define our values by creating a tangible example that we can compare against experiences we may come across in the future.

2. Relate Core Values to Next Career:  Take your top your top 5 values, list several ways you can express each of those values in your next career. Be specific about what actions you’ll take.

3. Accomplishment and Achievement Stories:  Identify times in your life that you were doing an activity(accomplishments and achievements) or  work  that you found had great meaning and purpose. Describe what you were doing, where you were, what you were feeling or thinking. A great way to do this is using journal  writing  as a value determination tool  and use the above criteria to fill in each entry. Then review and indentify patterns.

In summary, the ultimate goal is to be able to answer the following question “Will my new job honor my personal values?”  If the answer is yes you have made a decision n that is congruent with you core personals values and will take you one step closer to career happiness

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Career Vitality Services Inc.

Brian Lambier has over 26 years of experience in the human resources, career and retirement coaching fields and is presently President/Owner of Career Vitality Services Inc. in Calgary The Career Vitality Services team believe that the cornerstone to service is to help you discover your passion so you can live your dream.