Values are a Major Driver in Career Transition

By Andrea Karapas, LPC (M.Ed. ’07)

Oftentimes we move through our daily lives with our values existing deep below the surface due simply to the fact that they’re in alignment with our current environment. It’s not until we have an experience or enter a space where they’re lacking, that we notice them. Let me give an example. Let’s say you work in a role that allows you a lot of flexibility with your calendar. You’re free to leave work to volunteer at your child’s school a couple times per month. Since it’s been a part of your work routine for the past three years, it’s something you’ve gotten used to and maybe even taken for granted. Then, there’s a leadership change in your office and a policy is implemented, no longer allowing you to volunteer at your child’s school without taking annual leave. Suddenly you take notice that flexibility is crucial to your job satisfaction and emerges as a value you’re not willing to compromise in the workplace, so you begin to look for another job.

Interests and passions tend to drive us toward industry. Our skills and strengths drive us toward the roles we pursue. And it’s typically our values that drive us to a particular company or organization. Though all three components of career fit fluctuate to some extent throughout our lifetimes, it’s our values that shift most frequently due to life experiences.

Based on a recent LinkedIn article I came across in my news feed, the average person is expected to now have 12-15 jobs throughout their lifetime. And people no longer feel the pressure to stay in a job they’re dissatisfied with. So the idea of frequent and thorough evaluation of your values and regular tune-ups become crucial along your career path. How are your values aligned with your industry, your role, and your company? It’s the first question you should ask yourself when you begin to experience discontentment in your career. Your response to this question will provide you with meaningful clarity and drive a more appropriate and intentional degree of career transition.

So how does one assess their values, you ask. Well there are many formal values assessments out there to help you with this but there are some simple questions you can reflect on that will yield similar results.

  • Think back on a time when you were really happy. What were you doing? Where were you? What factors and people contributed to your feelings of happiness?
  • Identify a time when you accomplished something that made you proud. How did you do it? Who else was a part of it? What factors contributed to your feelings of pride?
  • Who in your life do you admire and what traits do they exemplify that you’re drawn to? What types of people do you enjoy being around?
  • What types of environments stimulate and inspire you?