Deciding on your future career direction can be a challenging process. There will be a number of factors which will influence your next steps, including understanding what is important to you and what will give you satisfaction in a role. Spending time reflecting on your personal values and identifying which are most significant for you can be a helpful exercise in navigating what course your career journey could take.
When did you last take some time to reflect on your values?
Our values play an important part in career decision making. Identifying what is important to us at a given stage in our life will help us assess whether a current or future role is a good fit for us.
In the book ‘Build your own Rainbow’ Hopson and Scally set forth an exercise to help individuals consider what their values are – and rank them in to levels of importance.
Try it for yourself:
- Label 5 columns: Very Important, Important, Quite Important, Of Some Importance, Not Important
- Using the list of values below, arrange them in to appropriate columns for you
- Add more values if you want to
- N.B. Hopson and Scally suggest that if you have more than seven or eight in the Very Important column, you haven’t been discriminating enough.
- You now have a tool you can use to analyse your current position or situation, and future possibilities
- As an extended activity, rearrange the cards the way you would have five or ten years ago – what has changed?
List of values
|A well-known organisation: you like being part of a well-known organisation.|
|Artistic: you enjoy work involving drawing, designing, making music, making models, etc.|
|Being Expert: you like being known as someone with special knowledge or skills.|
|Challenge: you enjoy being ‘stretched’ and given new problems to work on.|
|Communication: you enjoy being able to express ideas well in writing or in speech.|
|Community: you like to live in a place where you can get involved in the community.|
|Competition: you enjoy competing against other people or groups.|
|Contact with people: you enjoy having a lot of contact with people.|
|Creativity: thinking up new ideas and ways of doing things is important to you.|
|Excitement: it is important for you to have a lot of excitement in your work.|
|Fast pace: you enjoy working rapidly at a high pace.|
|Friendship: you would or do like close friendships with people at work.|
|Help society: you like to think that your work is producing something worthwhile for society.|
|Helping others: it is important to you to help other people, either individually or in groups, as part of your work.|
|Independence: you like being able to work in the way you want, without others telling you what to do.|
|Learning: it is important for you to learn new things.|
|Making decisions: it is important to you to have to make decisions about how things should be done, who should do it and when it should be done.|
|Money: earning a large amount of money is important to you.|
|Peace: you prefer to have few pressures or uncomfortable demands.|
|Persuading people: you enjoy persuading people to buy something or change their minds about something.|
|Physical challenge: you enjoy doing something that is physically demanding.|
|Place of work: it is important that you work in the right part of the country for you.|
|Precise work: you like working at things which involve great care and concentration.|
|Pressure: you like working to deadlines.|
|Promotion: you like to work where there is a good chance of promotion.|
|Recognition: you do like people to appreciate you for the work you do.|
|Risk: you like to take risks.|
|Routine: you like a work routine which is fairly predictable.|
|Security: it is important to know your work will always be there for you.|
|Status: you enjoy being in a position which leads other people to respect you.|
|Supervision: you enjoy being responsible for work done by others.|
|Time Freedom: you prefer to be able to choose your own times for doing things, not having rigid working hours.|
|Variety: you enjoy having lots of different things to do.|
|Work alone: you like to work on your own.|
|Work with others: you like to work in a team alongside others.|
You can also find additional exercises to explore your values here.
This material is drawn from Build Your Own Rainbow – a workbook for career and life management by Barrie Hopson and Mike Scally, published by Management Books 2000 Ltd. With thanks to University of Edinburgh Careers who first published ‘Reflecting on your values’ in 2016.