We can expect to have some ups and downs throughout our careers, where our feelings about what we like and value change. As we’re exposed to new opportunities and experiences, our priorities shift.
As a result, what was once most important to you may be replaced by something that you deem more meaningful in the present moment. For example, over the past few years, you might have enjoyed traveling for work. However, your children are entering their teens, and you’d rather be home now. Or perhaps you have been vying for a job promotion. Yet, in these past few months, your current workload has increased, and you’ve realized that you might not want more responsibility. When it comes to our wants and needs, these types of swings are natural.
That’s why I recommend assessing whether or not your actions are aligning with your values as you advance in your career. Here are five steps to help you evaluate and gain clarity:
1. Learn what motivates you.
Think about your work experiences. What do you love, like, tolerate, or hate? You can write these out based on your current and previous work experiences. One of my favorite tools to uncover what drives and motivates us is the iEQ9 Enneagram questionnaire. The Enneagram explains why we behave the way we do, and it points to a specific direction for individual growth. Because it has so many levels, it’s remarkably accurate. Learn more about the Enneagram and watch the quick video tutorial.
2. Clarify what you want to avoid.
We all have preferences around our values and what we like to do. Consider times when you’ve been angry or upset at work. It’s often a sign that a value is not being met. Moreover, think about times you’ve been happy or enjoying yourself. These circumstances usually indicate that a value is being fulfilled. Sometimes we’re rewarded for what we’re good at despite not enjoying it, which makes us conflicted. If you’re struggling with this, I’d recommended taking the Myers-Briggs® Type Indicator, also known as MBTI® assessment, to help uncover your preferences. Learn more about the MBTI® and watch the quick video tutorial.
3. List out your values.
Values are what’s most important to you. These are non-negotiable, musts that motivate and guide your behavior and decisions. Examples include honesty, respect, cooperation, kindness, acknowledgment, and adventure. List out whatever comes to mind. Don’t judge your answers. You just want to identify them at this point.
4. Categorize and prioritize.
Take your list and group values together in themes to select your top five. You can do this by asking yourself, “If I had to choose between having X and not Y, or having Y and not X, which would it be?” Repeat this process until you narrow your list down. In the end, you may be surprised by your highest-ranking values. Also, take note of what you want to avoid at work, as this is equally important.
5. Evaluate your actions.
Now you can assess whether your efforts align with your values and think about what you could do differently at work. Write out specific steps you can take. Ask yourself: “What can I stop doing? What can I start doing? And what can I continue to do more or less of?” To help you build your list, watch the Stop, Start, Continue video tutorial, and download the template on my library page.
Activate your best from a position of strength.
As you think this through, be kind to yourself. Your values change over time, just as you do. That’s why you may outgrow a role you’ve loved before. These steps work great anytime you’re looking for ideas, feeling bored, fed up, or frustrated at work. Knowing what energizes and motivates you at work and knowing what you want to stay away from can help you choose positions that support your values. Lastly, define how you measure success and happiness. You want to make sure your satisfaction level is about YOU and independent of another person or circumstance.