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“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 feel 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 your words and actions 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 considering your career, it’s essential to understand your values.
Do you currently have a good understanding of your values?
How Your Values Help You
Act as your career compass. When your values are clear, you can use them to guide your decisions. You make decisions that align with your values and pass on the things that don’t. They can give you a sense of direction when you aren’t sure how to proceed. Knowing what’s truly important to you enables you to set personal and professional goals as well as direction. Your values can act as the ‘compass’ to guide you.
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 effectively. 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 might have a sense of inner conflict, which drives poor behavior leading to 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. As a small child,you absorb the world around you 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.’
Then between the ages of 8 and 13 years old, you progress tothe ‘modeling period’ or ‘copy-cat phase’ when you try lots of different behaviors, imitating those who appeal to you.
As you enter your teenage years more fully, you enter the ‘rebel phase’ or ‘socialization period’. Between the ages of 14 and 21, you drastically increase the number of people you regularly interact with, so naturally you start to test out more ideas and behaviors to see what resonates with you. Often this period is a phase of personal conflict as you may start to challenge some previously held beliefsr.
As you move into your early twenties, your values are generally fully formed. From this point on they start to influence your consistent behavior and feelings of happiness or conflict.
Evergreen, or ever changing?
While your values are generally built during 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. Iit is for a lot of us. It takes time to really understand yours, and even longer to learn how to integrate them into your career.,but it’s worth the effort. Values have the most transformational impact with regards to taking control of your career, finding happiness, and achieving success.
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)