Determine Your Values to Find a Fulfilling Career

Nancy Anderson
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It can happen to anyone. You landed your dream job but something about it doesn't make you happy. You aren't experiencing that fulfilling career you've heard so much about. But what can you do to make your career more satisfying? Your actions might involve making changes within your role in the company or looking for a new position altogether. However, any changes you make should start with an assessment of your core values.

Everyone has fundamental beliefs about life. These beliefs are the foundation for how you interact with others and the world around you, and form the basis for your decisions. Your beliefs are your core values, and they make you who you are; they define you. But have you ever really given a lot of thought to your core values and why you think the way you do or act the way you do?

Values are often described as adjectives, such as adaptable, adventurous, innovative, resolute, resourceful or effective. There are hundreds of values you could use to describe yourself but what you want to focus on are your core values, or the most important values that affect your daily decisions and underlie everything about you. If you're struggling to identify your core values, career and executive coach Rebecca Zucker suggests thinking about those peak experiences in your life when you accomplished something really great, whether personally or professionally, and then identifying why that experience made you feel so great. Did you enjoy the challenge of running in a marathon or competing in a pageant? Were you supported by your peers when you took on a new project at work?

You can also think about the times when maybe things didn't go your way or you were having a bad experience, and try to identify what made you feel that way. This is an example of when your values were not being met. It could even be something you're experiencing right now if you're not happy with your job. Try to identify what is making you unhappy. Are you being micromanaged? Are you being kept in the dark about important information? If so, then maybe being autonomous or a collaborator are core values to add to your list.

Once you've identified about 10 to 15 core values, rank them in order of most importance. Think of your values as wants versus needs. What is something you really need in your job versus something you really want? What can you live without? The importance of your values might also change at different times in your life. What may have been very important when you first started your career may not be as important five or 10 years later. When you've got your list, you can then start asking yourself questions like "I know being a part of a team is very important to me because I really enjoy the interactions with my colleagues; realistically how much teamwork have I done in this job and how much am I likely to do in the future?" to determine if you're in the right career or if you need to start looking elsewhere.

If you want a fulfilling career, spend a little time assessing your core values. This way you can determine if your job is meeting your career aspirations.

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