How to Understand Your Values and Boost Your Career

'Worth' highlighted, under 'Value'Whether applying for a job with a different employer or seeking an internal move within your current organisation, it’s important to check that the values of the new company or department are aligned with yours.

In order to do this, you first need to have a decent understanding of your own values. In day-to-day life, it can be hard to find the time and space to think about this, but these tips will help get you started.

  1. Put Your Positive Values in Order of Priority

On a sheet of paper, write down as many positive values as you can think of, words such as “honesty”, “responsibility” and “integrity”. Pick out the three values most important to you and put them in order of priority. This is a great way to kick off a time of reflection on your positive values.

  1. Acknowledge the Negative

Repeat the above exercise, but this time with words that represent negative values. Although it’s often harder to think about negative values than positive ones, considering both can prove particularly illuminating.

  1. Seek Feedback

It can be hard to think about ourselves in terms of our values. We may not see in ourselves what others can see. As well as reflecting on your values on your own, ask friends, family and colleagues what values they associate with you.

  1. Get a Mentor

As well as talking with your peers about your values, you may also want to do so within a more formal relationship, such as the one between mentor and mentee. A mentor can be anyone you respect and who is able and willing to share their wisdom and experience with you on a periodical or regular basis. They can be someone within your organisation or someone completely outside of your professional life.

  1. Review Your Professional History

One thing that’s useful for you to do, with or without a career guide, is to look back over your work history. What examples do you have of your values influencing or affecting your work, your professional identity, your relationships within the workplace?

  1. Reflect on Your Personal History

Although you may be assessing your values for professional reasons, reviewing your personal history in addition to your professional career is worthwhile. By identifying and understanding values that have come into play at different times in your life, you can begin to see patterns that are consistent with all areas of your life, giving you a better understanding of your values within the context of your professional role.

  1. Research Online

There is a plethora of online material for assessing your values and strengths. Exploring these resources is a great way of uncovering and articulating things meaningful for you.

  1. List the Meaningful

Make a list of the things that are most meaningful to you. Ask yourself why each thing is meaningful to you. When something is meaningful to us, it’s usually at least something to do with one of our values. By understanding why something means a lot to you, you stand a better chance of understanding your values.

  1. Work with a Career Guide

When trying to understand your values within the context of your career, it can be useful to work on this with a career guide. A career professional with plenty of real world work experience, in addition to any professional qualifications can help shine a light on the values you cherish in your working life and determine how they fit in with your next career action.

  1. Think Ahead

What kind of person do you want to be in one to 10 years’ time? What values do you want to be modelling? Even if you aren’t already modelling these values in your life, understanding what your ideal values are and how you want them to affect your future will help you understand what’s important to you right now.

Simon NorthAbout the author:

Simon North is the Founder of Position Ignition and the Career Ignition Club. Position Ignition is one of the UK’s leading career development and career planning companies. The Career Ignition Club offers a range of career support tools, advice and e-learning materials for its members.


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