Summer Series: Does your work fit your values?

values kids

If I asked you to name the three most important things to you - the things you most value - you might say your family, your health, maybe your financial security?  What if I asked you what you value when it comes to your work or how you spend your time day-to-day? Crystal clear? Or a little murky?

When it comes to working out who you are and what you want from life your values are like your budget when you go to buy a car.  It's kind of difficult to come up with anything meaningful unless you know what they are and how they might shape your decisions and actions.  

Once upon a time we thought of values as being pretty wishy washy emotionally-driven ideas but current thinking suggests that they combine both our cognition (our thoughts) and our emotions, tied up together in the workings of the brain.  On the thinking side we know that what we value drives our goals and goal-oriented behaviour and on the emotional side our values influence our attitudes, which in turn drive our behaviour.  We're complex creatures, we humans. 

So, what do you value?  Wanna answer some questions to find out?

Today we're looking specifically at values in relation to how we spend our day.  I'm calling them work values but they apply equally to non-paid work, parenting and any other day-to-day activity.  

Here's a questionnaire you can take to identify your work values.  It's courtesy of the University of Melbourne's Careers and Employment service.  It only takes a few minutes and I found it very helpful.  Best if you print it out and scribble like I did....

Work Values Questionnaire

Don't worry too much about listing your 'Always Important' values in order of importance, or even sticking to a top five (I had six).  As always, the important part is the doing of it.  There's no right, wrong or best way.

When it comes to writing up your 'Values Work Story' at the end, reflect on whether your values are met by your day to day activity and if not, how could you change our day - or your work - to use them more?  What have your learnt about yourself doing this exercise?

I was reminded that I really need to stay self employed and to do stuff that's flexible and keeps me learning.  Every once in a while (like yesterday) I'm tempted to return to the workforce, to get a 'proper' job and have routine and regular pay.  Then I do something like this activity and remember that when I've tried that I've become pretty bored and frustrated pretty quickly and I'm better off sticking to my usual knitting of project-based writing and consulting because I value flexibility and variety (among other things.)

Finally, make a note of your work values alongside the other things you've learnt about yourself so far (your strengths and how you use them and your interests) in your notebook or other profile keeping tool.  Here's mine so far....

work values and self profile

We're half way through our self-discovery journey. What have you learnt about yourself so far? Tell me, tell me.  I'd love to know!