Values and Their Impact on Career Success

Sadly, you don’t have to look very far to find people who are unhappy in their job or profession.

Research confirms the gloomy reality. Worldwide, only 13% of employees are engaged at work and unhappy employees outnumber happy ones by two to one.

It’s usually easy to pinpoint the problem. A lack of passion for our work; no real connection with our employer or colleagues; bad management; limited use of our skills; poor opportunities for learning or no sense of purpose are all common complaints that see many of us wishing we were somewhere else.

But working out what changes to make – either in our current role or with a new career path – is often the biggest barrier to a successful transition. Whether we have a hunch about the right direction for us or we face a blank sheet of paper, fear that we will make the wrong decisions can keep us stuck on the same unfulfilling treadmill.

Acting on our instincts or trying to come up with ideas on the best course of action is hard to do without guarantees of success.

That’s where defining and aligning with our personal values can make all the difference, setting us on the path to lasting career satisfaction and success.

Values are our own personal reference guide for the way we need to live and work in order to be happy. They are our internal markers for what is good, beneficial, important, meaningful, useful, desirable and constructive for us.

Examining who you really are, what drives you and what, to you, matters provides an invaluable guide that can set you on the path to a lasting career that is truly meaningful, purposeful and fulfilling. Values can be applied as a beneficial filter for career choices at any stage in life, whether you want to reappraise and alter course, identify the right second career or improve specific workplace or role challenges.

And that’s not all.

My experience working with hundreds of people over the years affirms when individuals put their personal values at the heart of their decision making, they are much more likely to find lasting satisfaction and excel in their chosen career.

The recent results of a 14-year study at West Point Military Academy in the United States back up this assertion. The study assessed the ensuing career success of 11,320 cadets in relation to their stated motives for attending the academy at the start of the course. Those cadets whose motivation was driven purely by internal, personal values (think “I want to serve my country” or “I want to test my abilities”) outperformed those whose choice was underpinned by external factors (for example, “I want the prestige of being an officer” or “I want to get a free scholarship”). They also outperformed the cadets who were a hybrid of the two.  Effectively, the cadets who were true to themselves and their values achieved greater career success than those who didn’t.

So, if you are considering a change in role or profession it’s worth asking yourself how the work you do is serving your values today and what needs to change to meet your own satisfaction criteria?

To have a go at defining your own values, download this free eBook.


September 7, 2015
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