Before starting a new career or business venture, it is important to devote some time to determining where you are in life and where you want to go. This will assist you in defining your own
individualized criteria for success. While this article is limited to discussing career-related values, you can use the same guidelines discussed to develop personal values as well.
"Our values keep us in touch with we really are, and who we want to become as human beings and that's a good thing."
An essential element of establishing such criteria for success is identifying which values are most important to you. Do you value money, prestige, power, friendship, or family?
For each person, their values are personal and individual. While we may all share certain common values, how we rank or prioritize them in our lives can be quite different.
Life Is About Choices And Trade-Offs
Why is it so important to clearly establish our values? Hopefully this doesn't sound to cliché, but life is about choices and trade-offs. We are all faced with situations in our personal and professional lives which require us to make choices. Many decisions are not always easy to make because they may contradict with a value or ideal that that we hold dear. In situations like this, wouldn't you want to be the one deciding what to "give-up", compromise, or hold firm to, instead of leaving that decision to someone else or even to chance?
The task of determining what vales are important can seem daunting. However when you approach the process in a step by step method as we outline here, the process should hopefully not seem as overwhelming. Keep in mind that you should periodically return to evaluate your values, both personal and professional. It is a work-in-progress which will change as circumstances in your life change. So, do not feel as if you must hold these values, in any particular order, throughout the rest of your life.
Examples of career-related values
As mentioned previously, there are numerous career-related values which mean different things to different people. To provide you with possible ideas, we have provided a partial list to assist you in focusing on your own values. You may choose to borrow from this list or explore others. It's completely up to you. There is no right or wrong answers.
Typical career-related life values:
Making a List
After you have taken some time to mull over what values are important to you, sit down with pencil and paper and jot down as many as you can. Don't worry about the particular order or coming up with some type of ranking system. At this point, just jot them down.
Refining your List
After you have made your list, ask yourself a couple of questions:
Once you have isolated those values, go back to the least important values list. Identify a single value that you are most willing to give up. In other words, this value has the lowest priority in your life. Now go to the most important values list, and identify the value which is the most important to you. This value has the highest priority in your life.
- What are the 3 values that you would be most willing to give up or compromise if need be? These are classified as your least important values.
- What are the 3 values on this list that I would be least likely or willing to give up or compromise if need be? These are classified as your most important values.
Our Values and Our Pursuits
After you have completed the above exercise, examine your most important values. Compare them to where you are in life at this moment. Are they in alignment? Is this the value that you are spending the most time pursuing? The truth is that most people, when they think about it, are not.
But, don't despair. We have the ability to empower ourselves and chart a course that will take us to the point in our life we need to be. Even if we drift off course, we can still take the necessary actions in our life to put us back on course to achieving the goals which we most value in life, both professionally and personally.
By periodically tracking our progress, we stay on course and our values evolve and mature as we do. Clarity in our values keeps us anchored when situations and circumstances around us may deteriorate. Our values keep us in touch with we really are, and who we want to become as human beings and that's a good thing.
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