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Get Real About What’s Important: The Importance of Values in a Career Change

November 17th, 2016

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“The things that matter most should not be sacrificed to those that matter least.” ~ Dr Stephen R. Covey, Author

Values conflicts are one of the major causes of work-related stress. If you’re proactive you’ll get out unscathed, and as you’ll read later in this chapter, not getting your needs met may just lead you to your life purpose.

“I used to be the sort of person who usually put her head down and worked towards a goal and if I worked hard enough and aimed for my goal, then success would follow. And for the first time my life plan wasn’t working out,” said Juliet de Baubigny, a powerful venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. Her entrepreneurial genius is said to have contributed to the transformation of companies such as Google and Amazon.

Several years ago her marriage ended in a bitter divorce, her young son was diagnosed with Type I diabetes, and she ended up in the ICU with bilateral pneumonia, all within six months. “It makes you question faith and humanity,” she said. “So I thought how do I redirect this?”

Juliet heeded the call for change—embarking on a quest of discovery.

“I consulted every shaman, every psychic, every priest to learn about what was really important to me what my value system was.” The result? “The things that matter most in life are health, family and doing what you love.”

Juliet’s imparts her wisdom to her children, “Do what you love, work hard, tell the truth and be kind.”

If only more kindness prevailed at work. Just think what a better place the world would be.

I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again. Do not, under any circumstances stay in a job that compromises your values, or is making you physically ill. Perhaps, your mindset needs to change. Perhaps it’s the job. But whatever the cause, take action now to find the cure.  Conquering stress, this escalating modern day evil is so critical that I devoted a whole chapter to it in my first book, Mid-Life Career Rescue: The Call For Change. And readers agree. As one reviewer wrote:

“I definitely recommend reading the chapter on stress. I wish I had the valuable information she laid out 15 years ago when I went through a ‘brown out’,” one step before complete burn out.

If I knew what physical signs to look for I would have left that job way earlier than I did. Unfortunately for me I learned the hard way what a stressful job situation can do to you both mentally and physically, but you don’t have to. Instead, you just need to read Mid-Life Career Rescue, and follow the advice of Ms. Gaisford.”

Values in Business

Organisations have their own values and personalities too. Finding individuals who ‘fit’ their culture plays a key part in their hiring decisions.  And it’s a two-way street. Similarly your best-fit job or organisation is one that aligns with your values and allows you to be yourself.

Once you have identified your driving values you can begin to look for companies and roles that align with them. For example, if you identified ‘passion’ as important, look for companies that actively communicate and act upon this value.

Sometimes this may mean doing a little bit of investigative homework. Don’t just rely on what the advertisement or job description says, or what the recruiter or hiring manager tells you. Ask people who work there, customers who deal with them, and even competitors. Get the real story. It’s not what they say that counts; it’s what they do.

Not all companies actively live and breathe their values. But the truly great companies, businesses and individuals do.

Hot Tip! Increase your chances of a good values match by including a summary of your values in your CV, social media profiles like Linkedin, or your website if you have one. 

Overcoming Values Conflicts

The consequences of accepting a role or staying in a job where you’re values don’t ‘fit’ are huge. Job dissatisfaction; a feeling of not belonging; of not being appreciated, affirmed or valued; and serious depression can occur if no remedial action is taken. These feelings and experiences are commonly referred to as ‘values conflicts’.

One of my clients, Lynn, was the editor of a magazine. She had a real gift for innovative and lateral thinking, and creativity was something she valued. She assumed that when she accepted a new position as Chief Editor for another company that her creativity would be something they also valued.

It was a huge shock to learn that they valued maintaining the status quo more than innovation, and that they did not affirm or value the changes she sought to create.

She also valued her independence and autonomy, and in her previous role her boss had been happy for her to work whatever hours and days she liked. His main criteria was that the job got done; he didn’t care where or how.

In her new role people preferred to work standard hours and questions were asked and eyebrows were raised when she attempted to work from home or worked anything other than the core Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm hours. Her boss’s assumption was, “If I can’t see you, you’re not working.” Not much trust there!

For her own health and happiness, Lynn resigned after three months. She realised that if she stayed any longer it would mean changing the very essence of who she was, and devaluing her needs.

In hindsight she wished she had taken the time to think about her most important values prior to changing careers, rather than having acted so impulsively.

“I guess I just assumed that it would be similar to where I was before. I could have saved everybody a lot of grief by clarifying my needs and asking a few more questions about the company culture before I started.”

Action Task! Get Your Needs Met

If any of your most important values are not being met to your satisfaction, what changes need to occur so that they are met? Some ways to check if your values are in alignment, and steps you can take to resolve any values conflicts, include:

1) Thinking laterally. Brainstorm with friends all the possible ways that people make a living from each of your main values. Think laterally. The aim is not to make a decision but to build an exhaustive list.

Choosing your best-fit career comes later. Right now, allow yourself to go wild and explore. Who knows what you may find. Use generative, open-ended questions like ‘who, where, why, when’ to create a wider list. For example, how can I make a living from (insert value)? Who is making a living from (insert value)?

2) Paying attention to your body barometer. Notice the times when you feel inspired – a sure sign your values are aligned. When you values are met there’s often a feeling of lightness or calm in your body, or a surge of excitement, joy and elation.

The opposite is also true. Heaviness in your shoulders or heart, a feeling of dread in your chest, a surge of anger through your body, are some of the many ways your body warns you of conflict.

3) Exploring and negotiating. Develop a list of questions designed to confirm whether your values align with any prospective employer or role you are considering. For example, if ‘respect’ is one of your values you may ask an employer, employee or another stakeholder: “How are differences resolved around here?”

If time freedom is important to you, make sure you negotiate flexible hours as part of your employment package. If work-life balance is important, target companies that actively support this. Check company websites, ask people who work there or contact organisations like the EEO Trust to learn more about who you’d like to work for and why.

4) Asking for your needs to be met. All too often people walk away from perfectly good careers without telling people what they need to feel happy, motivated and productive.  “Why is it that people only tell us what they want when they’re heading out the door,” one frustrated HR manager told me.

‘If they valued me, they’d know what I needed,” a client once said. Don’t rely on people being mind readers, and don’t assume they don’t care.

I once successfully negotiated working a four-day week in one job, and working from home in another. Initially my request was met with disapproval. I figured they were afraid I wouldn’t get my work done, so I suggested we give it a go as a trial. This allowed them to get comfy with the idea, knowing they could return to the status quo if I didn’t deliver. I got heaps more done than being in the office.

If you can’t get your needs met, it’s time to look elsewhere. I’ve done this many times in my career.

5) Playtime. If it is not possible at this time to get your needs met in your career, and you’re not ready to make a move, pro-actively seek ways to satisfy your values away from work. Taking up a hobby, joining up with like-minded people or volunteering are just a few possible ways to achieve this. Look for examples of people, places or things that align with your values. Meet-up.com is a great place to start.

Book_transparentbg copyThis was an excerpt from Mid-Life Career Rescue: What Makes You Happy.

You’ll find more tips to help you clarify what makes you happy in, Mid-Life Career Rescue: What Makes You Happy.

Available for immediate download less than the price of a cup of coffee – getBook.at/MakeYouHappy

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