Why our core values matter

Why our core values matter

Do you know what your core values are?

More importantly, do you know how they impact your career choices and overall happiness?

Our values are the intangible guiding principles that drive our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours. When our career choices are aligned with our core values, we experience a sense of purpose, fulfilment, and happiness. We are operating as our ‘authentic self’.

On the flip side, when there is a misalignment between our values and our career and life choices, we can experience feelings of discontent and discomfort. We are betraying our ‘authentic self’.

Why is it useful to know your personal values?

Understanding our core values is all part of getting to know who we really are and what we stand for.

If you want to live your life with authenticity and integrity, your actions need to align with your values rather than what is expected of us. A very powerful quote comes from Bronnie Ware’s book ‘The Top 5 regrets of the Dying’. In her research the most common regret of the dying was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

Our core values are important across our whole life, but here I will focus on the career aspects.

With the era of the 'squiggly' career, where professionals often navigate multiple careers, understanding our core values is more important than ever. Yet, recognition of our core values can be a struggle and is something that we seldom take the time to consider. Without a clear understanding of what is important and non-negotiable, we may end up making unfulfilling job changes throughout our lives.

If you find yourself working in a role or an organisation that is out of alignment with your core values, you may feel like a square peg in a round hole. This misalignment can lead to physical illness, depression, and burnout, which is why it's crucial to recognise your core values and align them with your career aspirations.

We also need to be careful about feeling we ought to hold certain values.

We might look at others and admire the way they live, or have an expectation that we need to behave and live a certain way to please others. This can see us adopting these values when they are not truly ours.

When I think back to my corporate career days in HR, I realise I was wearing a professional mask that hid my core value of fun. In addition, my creative value was stifled as I toed the company line.

However, living out of alignment can have much more serious consequences. As someone who has gone through burnout, I can attest to the importance of recognising and aligning with our core values. During COVID I had to return to 5 day working and lost my value of Flexibility. A complete change of Board left me feeling a lack of Autonomy. The sudden removal of these two values was a major contributor to me leaving the corporate world and pursuing a career that aligns with my core values.

Discovering your top values is an intense process, but it really is one of the crucial first steps in getting to know your ‘self’. They are not merely words we choose off a list we need to give them some context to fully understand what we mean.

One of my other values is Freedom, but this can mean many things to different people. Is it freedom from something or freedom to do something?, e.g.
·      Freedom to choose how and when I work is important to me.
·      Freedom to live in any country is important to me.
·      Freedom to express my creativity is important to me.
·      Freedom of speech for myself and others is important to me.

Understanding our values at this granular level is crucial to make them come alive and that's why I'm passionate about helping my clients understand their core values and how to align them with their career aspirations.

It's often a lightbulb moment for clients that shines a light on why they feel disillusioned or unfulfilled. They gain the insight and confidence to seek out the type of role and organisation that will truly give them career satisfaction and happiness. It also empowers them to say no to roles and organisations that don't meet their values.

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