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How to define your values – and why you need to

Tick and cross on chalkboard

Your “values” are the things that matter to you, deep down.

They are internally-derived.

And they remain the same, no matter what the context – for example, whether you’re at work, or in your home life.

A crucial first step in working out the right career for you is to understand what your values are.

If your career doesn’t fit with your values, you will never feel balanced and fulfilled…

This article sets out a way in which you can define your values.

Step 1: work out a long-list

There are many possible Values in the world!

And there might seem to be a lot of overlap between them.

So step 1 is to define a long-list of Values – ones that resonate or appeal in some way, without getting too prescriptive about how important they are relative to one another (that step comes later).

So consider the list below, and identify the ones that resonate or appeal, and also the ones that really don’t.

For example (much to my occasional chagrin), “frugality” will never be one of my Values, whereas “family” always will be.

(If you can print them off, that will make this process easier for you – you can highlight/ circle/ cross off as desired.)

Step 2: group like with like

Take a step back and review your chosen Values.

You will be able to notice similarities or “families” of Values – for example, “love”, “family”, “trust”, “happiness” could make a grouping.

Clump them together until you have 5-10 groupings.

Step 3: define your “meta-Values”

Finally, look at your “families”.

You will find that one (or at most two) words or Values sums up that grouping.

Define an overarching word/ words for each of your clumps , and you will have your “Meta Values”.

Step 4: what does this all mean?

Review your Meta Values, and consider these questions:

1. What do these Values indicate about my chosen career path?

Am I fulfilling my Values doing this type of work, in this industry?

Or would they be better served in a different context?

For example, I had a client who had a meta-Value of “honesty”.

She realised she didn’t feel she could live this Value in her current job, because she actually wasn’t that interested in the subject-matter.

She decided to do the same type of work (which she did enjoy), but in a different industry – one that she was interested in.

2. What do these Values indicate about my optimum behaviours?

For example, if one of your Meta Values is “balance” but you are constantly choosing to run yourself ragged by taking on too many things at once, you are not living your Values.

What can you do to bring more balance into your life?

This may benefit from conversation with others – friends, or a coach – to give you a bit of objectivity – it can sometimes be hard to see this for oneself.

Working on values is one of the most crucial steps I take with my clients when helping them define their dream career.

If you’d like personal support with defining your values, and understanding the implications for your career, get in touch to arrange a free intro call: kirsten@kirstengoodwin.co.uk or book into my calendar.

Good luck!


Kirsten Goodwin

The Naked Confidence™ Coach

Hired to help female leaders feeling the pain and pressure of their position. Transforming your Mindset AND Skillset 🔥 Banish your Imposter, and find your way, your confidence, & your edge.

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Kirsten Goodwin

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