Aligning Your Work - Life Values
During your working life, many of us get so immersed in the day-to-day routine that we forget to look at the larger picture— our lives.
Work takes up such a large proportion of our awake hours, that it is the major activity of our life as a whole.
To many, it is just a paycheck, but for others it is a daily involvement in a passion, or a purpose.
If you can honestly tell yourself that you love going to work, that you feel your work has significant purpose, and that it gives you life satisfaction, you are in the minority.
For many, however, vague feelings of dissatisfaction and restless pervade your work day.
Others find they change jobs often - starting each new job with high enthusiasm, only to lose interest or motivation fairly quickly.
These scenarios generally indicate a mismatch between your values and your employment.
Identify Your Life Values
Values are the foundation of who you are. They are the things you hold dear—the guiding principles, standards, and beliefs you are committed to and live your life by.
When you values are compromised, you feel unhappy and dissatisfied.
Values are not set in stone. Some may remain consistent throughout your life; others change through maturity, experiences or circumstances.
Understand Your Job Values
Your job values are what motivate you at work. If you don't understand what these are, you are not able to choose the right job for you.
Think of your career as a journey and your interests, abilities, and values as key elements in that journey.
Interests tell you what direction to go.
Abilities indicate how long it will take to reach your goal.
Values dictate whether or not the journey is worth taking in the first place.
If, consciously or unconsciously, your values tell you that a particular direction is not the right one, your journey is unlikely to end in success!
Difference Between Values and Ethics
In the context of a job, values differ from ethics.
Values do not have a moral dimension, they do not have to be seen by society as “right” or “just” or “responsible”. They just need to be right for you.
For instance, one of your work values may be regular interaction with the physical work, maybe manifested as frequent trips beyond the walls of the office.
A corporate sales role may give you this, as you visit clients in their offices, whereas a support role has you tied to a desk and headset. Both have frequent interaction with the customer, but your value has highlighted one role as good for you, and the other not.
Nothing in this value has a moral implication. Not liking customer service does not mean you don't like people....as many Pysche tests will try to establish!!!
Follow Your Heart
The only way to get the right job for you is to assess what is important to you....then have the courage to follow your heart. Your ideal job may only pay a fraction of others you are capable of performing. But in terms of happiness, it delivers significantly more.
Taking a structured approach to this assessment, prevents confusion and ensures you make choices based on values, not expectations.
Make yourself a values “scorecard,” to help make decisions, they really assist you to identify and prioritize what you consider important.
Make sure your values come from the heart - don't let your head rule this choice. Your head adds in all the logical components and expectations from others. This is not about them - it is about you.
Use the following list to help determine your values by thinking of each phrase and what it means to YOU, what it delivers to your life, whether it is important to you:
Once you are comfortable in what each phrase means to you, divide them into lists under the following headings.
Don't worry if you find yourself changing your opinion as you go through them again. This is a learning process after all, and for many, the first time they have ever faced their own values, instead of those of parents, partners, friends or society.
Assess Your Current Work
Now using your lists, check them against your present job.
If your most important requirements [Must Haves] are NOT being met, you need to determine what you can do to change the situation.
Often, several small adjustments in your current working conditions can make the difference between your being happy or unhappy in your job.
Recognize & Accept When Change Is Impossible
Sometimes, in spite of how hard you try to change things, you cannot reconcile your current role to your values. In this situation, you have to have the courage to face the fact that the differences are irreconcilable.
Exit interviews indicate that one of the top ten reasons for people leaving their jobs is that their values are at odds with the corporate culture.
Staying in a job not aligned with your values not only destroys your attitude at work, eats away at your confidence and enthusiasm, but also affects your relationships and life outside the workplace.
What to Avoid
You ignore your instincts.
Most of us have an inherent desire to be responsible and do what is “right.” We don't like upsetting the status quo, causing conflict and disruption. So we have a stronger urge to stay in a situation we are unhappy in, than take the risk of leaving. This occurs in both working environments and personal relationships. We tend to blame ourselves if we are unhappy— and feel guilty if we put ourself and our priorities first. This is not the best path for you - you cannot make others happy, if you are not happy. And staying in a bad situation to please others at the risk of your own happiness is being a martyr.
Prioritizing your values into essentials and nice-to-haves is useful, as it helps you decide just how hard you need to push in different situations.