The Daily Challenge: Identify (and redefine) your values


Make values a guiding force of your career.


Identify (and redefine) your values

Time to Read: 3 Mins

“Values” might sound like a buzzword, but they’re so much more than that. Values are what we care about. They’re what drive us. And too often, we don’t slow down to think about what our values are in the first place. 

Put differently, your values are standards of behavior reflecting what is important and meaningful to you in life, and identifying them can be useful in several ways. 

For example, in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), ‘values clarification technique’ helps setting treatment goals and guiding the patient in improving their quality of life. 

In the same way, in professional development, naming the values present in someone’s work life is used for making more strategic career decisions, increasing motivation and setting meaningful career goals.

Competition, creativity, structure, and moral fulfillment are all examples of work-related values, and there is an endless number of other principles (we list many of them here). 

The curious thing about values is that your values are likely very different from the values of the person next to you. For example, one person might value a high salary and be willing to sacrifice long hours. For someone else, it might be the reverse. 

Similarly, your values today might be very different from your aspirational values of the future. Understanding the difference between your current values and the values you wish you had is critical to being true to yourself. For example, maybe someday you really want to spend most of your evenings with friends. Today, however, you find yourself genuinely valuing the learning you are doing in your job and opt to spend your evenings learning more about your industry. 

Today, spend 5 minutes thinking through your values. You might have already identified your values, but what’s important to us is not set in stone for life: it evolves over time and with new experiences. So if it’s been even a few months since you last thought about what matters most to you, revisit the subject. 

Step 1: Think about a moment when you felt motivated, happy, or particularly satisfied. Describe that memory. What values were present in it? For example, were you working on a challenging project? Did you feel safe in speaking up during a meeting? Did you have an opportunity to collaborate with excellent coworkers? Were you able to go home at a good hour? 

Step 2. Think about a time when you felt drained, unhappy, or demotivated at work. Which of your values were absent?

Step 3: Rank the values you outlined in steps 1 and 2, identifying the most important one. Think about your values as trade-offs. It’s impossible to have all of them all the time. But if you know what matters most to you, it’s easier to choose that value over other values as often as possible. 

Pro-tip: Add a verb to each value. To make your principles actionable, attach a verb to each value on your list. For example, “Mindfulness” can become “Act with mindfulness,” and “Making the difference” can become “Seek opportunities for making a difference.”

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