Feeling stuck? How your Core Values can help you with your decision making

Imagine that you’ve had a long week at work, staying late most nights. It’s finally Friday and your boss asks you to stay late yet again. It’s a repeating pattern and apparently it’s very normal at your company.

You might want to live up to your boss’s expectations, especially if you feel optimistic about your future at the company. But you might also feel that you don’t spend enough time with your family and can’t get to the gym as often as you’d like. Is this job the right fit for you?

You can answer this question with a core values check. All of the needs, or values, that are in play here are likely important to you — your health, your achievement, and companionship from spending time with your family. But to make a decision you need to separate your core values from the rest of your needs.

The best way to start identifying your core values is to make a habit of asking yourself what you need in various situations. Spend the next couple of weeks taking notes on your experiences and keep track of what you needed in each experience. Over time you’ll start to recognize patterns. The needs that you notice the most frequently are your core values.

For example, you may find that the need for achievement and creativity come up frequently in your notes. Does your job satisfy those needs? If so, you might be willing to sacrifice some of your other needs — even if it’s just in the short term — to pursue a career that is aligned with your core values. Or you might realize that your need for health appears most frequently. You might decide that ultimately, this company is not right for you in the long term, and you are not willing to put in the extra hours to move up the corporate ladder.

You might find both achievement and health showed up in your list of needs frequently. That’s where you need to think if you can change your current situation in a way to meet both of your needs or find a job where your need for achievement won’t be in conflict with your need for health.

This example might sound a little bit simplistic. But the fact is that you can’t always have all of your needs met. At some point, you’re going to have to start prioritizing them. In other words, you’re going to have to start sorting your core values from the rest of your needs.

 

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