Aligning Your Values With Work
Over the years, I’ve encountered many people who seem to have different personas – a “work” persona and a “life” persona. And I suppose that many of us do find ourselves in different roles, perhaps leader at work, friend at the gym, or maybe friend at church and student in yoga class, parent, child, sibling – you get the idea. And I am not saying that there’s not a time and a place for adjusting our interaction style or communication approach from one situation to the next.
But foundationally, since we spend so much of our waking lives at work, I think it’s important to make sure that we are spending our workdays as a “persona” that aligns with what we really value. Otherwise, how can we possibly be authentic in our connections – as leaders, colleagues, vendors, customers? And we can do that by making sure that our workday – from the organization we work for all the way to the things we talk about on a day-to-day basis, are in alignment with the things that we value.
One step in this process is to make sure there’s an alignment between what we do at work and what we love to do; an alignment between who we work with, and who we love to work with; and an alignment between the difference our organization is making in the world, and the kind of difference we would love to make.
So, here’s a quick exercise. Go grab a pen or open up a new note on your screen, and use the prompts below to identify at least five, distinct things that you really like about your job. Five things, that when you think about them, you genuinely smile because they align with something you value. You may not have something in each category, and you may mention multiple things in any one category.
I encourage you to look at areas like this…
- The organization’s mission. I like working for a company that prioritizes (whatever your mission is) in this way, because I believe that it is important.
- The leadership of the organization or within your team or department. I love the way the leaders here do (whatever leadership skills you think are exceptionally great) because it makes employees feel (whatever the outcome is), and I think that’s cool.
- Your colleagues or peers. I like working with (whoever you like working with) because they (what do they do?) and I think that makes the workday better for the rest of us.
- Someone who stands out in your organization, whatever role they’re in. I like knowing I work with (that standout-person), because they demonstrate these qualities which are so valuable (what qualities do they demonstrate?)
- Your customers. I like serving our customers like (whoever you have top of mind as someone you like serving) because they (what they do that you think is important or meaningful).
- The work that you do. I like doing (the work that you do) because I know that it (how does it positively impact you or those around you, or why was it that you chose this particular career path?)
- The workspace you occupy. I like working in this space because (what you like about it)
- The pace at which work moves. I like working at this (describe this pace) because (whatever it is that you find so meaningful or useful or beneficial about that pace)
- The conversations you have at work. I like talking about (make note of the topics you enjoy covering) because (why you like talking about them).
There are a couple of benefits of this exercise.
Some reports have as many as 30% of us being unhappy at work and taking a few moments to think about what you do like about your job may help you work a little happier!
Furthermore, you’ve heard us talk about gratitude time and time again, and when we take time to think of things we like and people we value, we start to focus on appreciation, and that often leads to gratitude.
But most importantly, taking the time to think about these things, and really write them down and reflect on them, will help you understand what it is that you value. What do you prioritize in a workplace, in leadership, in working relationships, in the work itself? By reflecting on what you enjoy, what lifts you up, what you feel good about, you can also begin to understand what it is that you value.
You see, we may value different things. Some folks value collaborative discussions, and others value independent work. Some folks value a sense of competition, and others prize cooperation. Some prioritize solving tough problems, and others value demonstrating that we care. And by taking a moment to really reflect on what you value, you can help make sure that you’re doing more of what you value and less of what you don’t. Which, in turn, will help make sure you’re the same fun-loving, other-serving, kind-hearted person at work as you are outside of work.