Utilising values could make you happier
A large part of why we choose our careers is related to the values we have. They can be core to our career motivations. Work done by leading people in Happiness and Values such as Martin Seligman (Peterson and Seligman, 2004) suggests that our happiness is related to how we are able to identify and utilise these values in life. If at times in your career you’ve found yourself frustrated by your job, and maybe the organisation itself, it might because the values the organisation have aren’t congruent with yours.
What motivates you?
During a career coaching session you might be asked to explore some of these to look at your underlying motivations and ask what is important to you. You can do this yourself and start to understand your values. These can usually be thought of as the interests and qualities that you’ve always found yourself drawn to. Values make us who we are. When our work and life are aligned with them, we feel most fully ourselves and fully energised. We are naturally inclined toward our values, and find it easier stay true to them without making a lot of extra effort.
There are two types of values; intrinsic and extrinsic:
1. Intrinsic values are related to the work itself and how it contributes to society.
2. Extrinsic values include external features, such as physical setting and earning potential.
A Values Questionnaire will ask you to answer questions like the following:
- Is a high salary important to you?
- Is it important for your work to involve interacting with people?
- Is it important for your work to make a contribution to society?
- Is having a prestigious job important for you?
Separating social bias in values
There is no right or wrong in a ‘value’, although there may of course feel like there is a social bias to have one – like wanting to ‘save the world’. But as discussed, its important to find your values and then have a career that allows you to utilise them – even if it’s ‘save the designer shoe‘ So it’s important to think about what it is you want, rather than what you think would suit others. I have met people who changed career direction from sales into academia because of strong values based around research and analysis. I have also met a guy whose job involved removing landmines with an NGO and now wanted to work in investment banking because he wanted money and prestige. Good. It’s better to enjoy what you do. And it’s good to know what your values are so you can make a more informed career choice.
Identify your values in the Values Inventory
The Authentic Happiness site from the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania allows individuals to use the site to explore some of their values, if you want to find out more this is as good site as any, it’s well researched, and has high validity and reliability on most of the scales:
Reference:Peterson & Seligman. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: a handbook and classification. Washington, DC: APA Press.