In my former work as a career consultant, I met many people who were unhappy in their jobs. The NUMBER ONE reason that they were miserable was that there was a disconnect between their values and the values of the organization they worked for, the boss they reported to, or the people that surrounded them. When you think of it, your values are at your innermost core. Think about someone you really don't like. Most often, they have very different values than you do.
In one of my first jobs out of college, I was miserable. My boss was the most narcissistic, self-consumed, shallow, deceitful, materialistic person I had ever encountered my life. I worked an entire year for this man, and had nightmares (really) for about 10 years after I finally quit the job. Every fiber of my body was misaligned with this man's values. Every day I dreaded work. The business itself was not all that out of synch with my values, but the person I spent most of my time with had very different values. I worked in a fun, bustling area of downtown Chicago in a beautiful loft building, and I had a decent job title and got paid fairly well for my level. But, having to work with and for someone who valued money over human beings, who valued personal prestige over authentic talent and credibility, and who treated others with utter disrespect at all turns, made my life hell.
So, how do you figure out what you really value? Here is a little game. Get out 15 index cards or small pieces of paper. Think of what is important to you. Write one item on each card. Fill out all fifteen. Here are some of mine:
Health, Time with family, Making dinner for my kids, Beautiful surroundings, nice working conditions,
Ability to travel and have adventures, Spending time with friends, Financial resources, Art and culture, Education, The ability to do work that impacts people positively, Fitness, Continual learning and growth,
Next, ask yourself, if you had to discard one value, which one would it be? Crumple up that piece of paper and toss it aside. Keep doing this until you are reduced to your five top values. Now think, what type of work, career path, or educational track will allow for these values to be a priority in my life? If you are choosing a job or career path, not only think about the actual work, but consider the people and place
as well. Are they all aligned with YOUR values? If not, beware, for eventually you may find it hard to continue. If and when you do align your education, work and/or life with your values, you generally are happiest.