Our first in a series of guest bloggers who will help you find work with meaning and purpose.
What do Values Have To Do With Meaningful Work and Life?
“I love my job but now I know what is really important and it is not this!” That was a comment from a New Yorker when he returned to work after 9-11. Many people felt the same way! What does really matter to you? Do you know?
My client, I’ll call him John, has been a workaholic most of his career. He arrived at work before 8 am and most nights went home at 8 pm bringing a briefcase of work with him. When I asked him what is most important to him in life he lists his family first.
Match his work schedule with his number one priority and there is a disconnect. Asked what would change if he were living a life where his family was his priority, he chuckled and said sheepishly, “I guess I’d spend more time with them.” He’s now leaving his office in time to have dinner and spend time with his family.
A person in a workshop told about working for a company in the customer service department. His job was to give people a specific date their order would be ready even though he knew the order was always later than the date he was given. Being honest was very important to him but he was unable to say anything as customer service representative for that company. Now that he is starting his own business and he knows he will make honesty a priority.
We all have personal and work values. Working out of your values makes your work meaningful and fulfilling. Many successful people will admit that while they are earning a good living and are very good at what they do, there is something missing. Finding meaning in your work often means you need to identify your values.
How do you do this? One way is to ask yourself if there is a theme running through your life. Is there something you are naturally drawn to-something that you have always done? For me that something is helping people to learn.
As a first grader I could not wait to teach someone else all the new things I had learned. My cousin who was a year behind me in school was an eager learner. I taught him to read while he was in kindergarten. Pretty impressive for a first grader! Teaching is part of my value system. I’ve always done it.
Later I became a Chemistry Teacher and then an account executive for AT&T. Even in sales my own picture of myself was that I was educating someone about the product. Coaching too allows me to use that value. I help my clients to learn to identify and use their gifts so that the work they do can be meaningful and profitable.
Another way to think about values is to think about the kinds of activities that you are naturally drawn to. What do you do for fun? What do you read about? A client told me if he could free up time in his life, he would paint 3 or 4 hours a day. He valued his ability to be creative. He was drawn to painting and he loved to do it.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go to work each day doing the kind of work that you love? Once you have identified your work values, that is exactly what you can do. Often it is possible to find a way to use the values you have in a job you are already doing. If not it is time to start to think about what kind of work would enable you to use them.
9-11 taught us a very difficult lesson about the brevity of life. Life is too short not to do something meaningful and satisfying. Are you ready to do it too?
Here are some action steps that you could take to get started:
1. If you would like an assessment to help you identify your values, get the TruValues assessment by going to my blog: http://www.asparker.com/blog . The sign up box is on the right.
2. Write down the themes you see in your life. What stands out? Is there a common thread? Are you using that value or those values today? Can you find a way to use it/them?
3. Look at your schedule and what you must do on a daily basis. How can you use the values you identified above to get the work done? Make a commitment to use your values in what you do.
Example: A sales person who values connecting with others could reconnect with old clients. Just the connection will satisfy this person but they may also uncover new business or get some referrals.
Alvah Parker is a Practice Advisor to Attorneys and Career Transition coach as well as publisher of Parker’s Points, an email tip list and Road to Success, an ezine. Parker’s Value Program© enables her clients to find their own way to work that is more fulfilling and profitable. Her clients are attorneys and people in transition. Alvah is found on the web at www.asparker.com. She may also be reached at 781-598-0388.
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