How to build a meaningful career (part 2): Know your values

Posted on Sep 17, 2018

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Check out the whole series

This is part 2 in a blog series on how to build a more meaningful career.

Who do you want to be?

“This is the biggest tragedy in most people’s lives: many people know what they want to have, but have no idea of who they want to be.” – Tony Robbins

In her bestselling book The Desire Map, Danielle LaPorte proposes that we start any goal setting by identifying our desired feelings. She writes, “We have the procedures of achievement upside down… So what if, first, we got clear on how we actually wanted to feel within ourselves, and then we designed our to-do lists, set our goals, and wrote out our bucket lists?”

I’m a big fan of the KISS principle (Keep it simple, stupid!). So, I view life values and desired feelings as pretty much the same. I value gratitude; I want to feel grateful. I value health; I want to feel healthy. I’ll use these two terms interchangeably throughout this post.

Pick the method below that sounds the most fun and give it a try.

Below are 3 of my fave methods for finding the values (feelings) that are most meaningful to you. I invite you to pick the method that sounds the most fun and give it a try.

Consider what’s most important

In Awaken the Giant Within, Tony Robbins writes, “All you have to do to discover your values is answer one simple question: ‘What’s most important to me in life?’” He suggests brainstorming the answer to this question, then goes one step further.

What if you designed your life by choosing your values? He suggests, “Ask yourself a new question: ‘What do my values need to be in order to achieve the destiny I desire and deserve?’ Brainstorm out a list. Put them in order.”

What should my values be in order to achieve what I desire?

Consider how you want to feel

LaPorte writes, “How do you want to feel in each [area] of your life? Stream of consciousness is the way to go here.”

She defines five life areas to consider: livelihood & lifestyle, body & wellness, creativity & learning, relationships & society, essence & spirituality.

Consider the people you admire

Make a list of people you admire. They can be people you know personally, celebrities, historical figures, fictional characters… Take your time with this, and try to list at least 10 names.

Beside each name, list the qualities you admire in that person. As an example, I might write, “Ellen DeGeneres: kind, funny, generous, self-love, honest.”

Now read through all of the qualities you’ve listed and circle the ones that stand out. Maybe it will be listed multiple times, or maybe you just know it’s very important to you.

By examining what you admire in others, you’ve created a list of words or phrases that describe your life values.

Narrow it down and prioritize

Regardless of what method you used, you should have a great list of values and/or feelings that define who you want to be. Next, narrow your list down to three or four words or phrases. (Why? This is how many things we can easily hold in our mind at one time.)

Narrow your list to 3 – 4 values.

When it comes to prioritizing, Robbins again poses some great questions to ask. For each value, ask yourself two questions: “What benefit do I get by having this value in this position?” and “What could having [this value] at [this position in] my list cost me?”

Living these values is what will give meaning to your work, and to any aspect of your life.

Living your values gives your work meaning.

Additional Reading

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PC: Kimberly Bailey