Why Values Matter
Career professionals do agree that values are primary motivators for human behavior. Psychologists say that you will be happier, healthier, and, in general, better off when your motivation comes from your own well-defined set of core values.
How Your Values Affect Your Life
When you are clear about your value priorities, other things become more clear-cut. The lifestyle you desire is defined in terms of those core values, and with that lifestyle comes a set of goals, needs, wants, and aspirations. Your values then color the way you address each of those goals, needs, wants, and aspirations.
If you value friendship highly, you will do anything within your power to make and keep your friends. If helpfulness is your primary value, then it isn't difficult to imagine that your lifestyle includes opportunities for teaching, volunteering, nursing, or mentoring. If autonomy is your highest priority, then you will make decisions that give you the independence you need.
If fun is your primary value, then time and money that might be spent otherwise will go into having fun. Of course, adopting a lifestyle based on fun could cause you stress, financial difficulties, and even illness. Not all values produce positive consequences all of the time.
Core values are particularly indispensable in times of crisis. The upheaval that comes from events that are out of your control, such as being laid off from your job, forces you to examine your deepest needs. Your values provide the steadying foundation upon which to build a new, meaningful career. Identifying your most important values will point you in your right direction.
Values and Career Choices
Your values influence your choices with regard to occupation, employer, corporate culture, family, and community involvement. No doubt you can now see the advantages of linking your career to your core values. Milton Rokeach wrote, “The fit between the individual and various components of the individual's environment is not always perfect.”
If you ignore your values for the sake of a job, you run the risk of creating a disconnect that could potentially sabotage your own success. You may lose interest in your work, grow dissatisfied or angry, or stop caring about the organization altogether. The result is that you and your employer both lose.
If your values closely match those of your organization, you will be perceived as contributing a great deal, while attaining your personal goals. The stage is set for satisfaction and success on both your parts.
Aligning your career with your values can help you:
Grow as a person
With your values prioritized, you will see advantages when it comes to making decisions, too. Roy Disney once said, “It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” All jobs entail tradeoffs. Do you crave more prestige, higher pay, a chance to help others, increased job security, more variety, increased risk, and more independence? You may want them all, but the chances are good that you can't have them all.
You have to make tradeoffs. The way to do that is by assessing each desire in light of your core values. Your values won't change, but you will decide which ones are more important to you right now in your present circumstances. Ultimately, values provide guidelines for answering the question: “What is most important to me?” When it comes to your career, there is no question more important than that.