Today I’m talking about two mistakes that aren’t very obvious, can sometimes take years to manifest and when they do, can leave people feeling defeated, depressed, burnt out, disconnected, off track and a whole host of other serious outcomes.

It’s something I suffered from in my own former corporate career and sadly, it’s something I see so many professionals suffer from.

The two mistakes I see professionals make are:

1) They have no clue what their core values are
2) They have some awareness but are not in alignment with their core values and are making compromises or even sacrifices.

You see, down the line, one too many compromises down the line, you could end up in a role, job or point in your career where you ask yourself “how the hell did I end up here?!”

In order to experience a successful career, you have to be intentional and systematic about how you manage it.

In today’s article I’m talking about the importance of Core Values (not to be underestimated).

What are values? Values are things we believe to be important to us; things that we care about.

Photography by Jenny Stewart at our May 2017 Retreat in Wiltshire, UK 

First, let me give you some examples of what values could be…

Values are things, as I mentioned, that are important to you.

You might be the type of person who enjoys working individually, or you might be the type of person who craves working as part of a team and collaborating and therefore being in an environment that supports that would be really important. Being in an environment where there are others, maybe projects where you’re collaborating with other people, and if you’re that type of person, working from home by yourself may not be ideal and could make you quite miserable after some time.

This is a really good example to understand the importance of knowing what your values and why you should make every effort to live by them.

Another example could be that you’re the type of person who likes to work outdoors more than you like to work indoors, and if you’re stuck in an office job 9 to 5 or 9 to 8 – whatever the hours might be, after some time, you’re going to start feeling pretty rubbish about yourself because you’re craving to get out.

Knowing what’s going to work for you and what’s not going to work for you in your career, can make the difference between steady progress on the right path or a complete derail leaving you unfulfilled at some point.

Values in a way go hand and hand with your vision. These two components work very closely with each other and I focus on both when taking clients through a career coaching journey.

Knowing your values is also crucial because they absolutely help you make the right decisions in your career. They drive our decisions in fact and things start to become a lot simpler in life.

There was a time in my career where I wasn’t really aware of my values. I was just starting out and taking on whatever roles were coming my way and I think for a lot of people at the beginning of their careers, that’s quite understandable. However there does come time where we start to know ourselves better and start to understand what’s working for us, what’s not working and what’s important to us.

To be successful and happy in our careers it’s critical to take all this into consideration when making choices and taking decisions about the direction of our careers or the roles we choose to take up.

At the time in my life when I wasn’t clear on my values, I started to review things and situations more carefully and eventually reached a point where I began to see more clearly what my core values were and realised that for the longest time I had been ignoring them completely! I wasn’t particularly happy at that point in my career, I was struggling to understand what I could do differently and why I wasn’t making the kind of impact I knew I was capable of.

I was doing a lot of travelling at that time, living out of a suitcase, missing out on all the social activities I would normally include in my life and on top of that, I was in a role that didn’t showcase my core strengths.

I realised I was still doing things and taking on jobs/roles that I thought would be “good” for my career, look good on my CV or were paying good money. But really, it wasn’t a good situation at all even though externally it all looked great, internally I was unfulfilled.

It eventually dawned on me that I was going against the grain a lot of the time and life becomes so much harder when that happens.

I started paying more attention and recognised that previously I’d been on projects that saw me stretch, learn, perform and be recognised for my contribution. To go from that to a role where I wasn’t experiencing these things anymore was tough.

That’s when I realised, growth was a core value for me.

I made the conscious decision to understand what all my values were at that time and to stick by them….to not let fear stop me. I started to make my choices very, very carefully and as a result, things really started to take off for me in my career and things got a lot easier too.

To recap – not only is it important to think about what your core values are but also recognise how much you’re compromising on your values because if you are, you’re going to end up making sacrifices and ultimately end up unhappy.

There is always a way to live by your values and make choices that are in alignment with them. The first step is to believe what you desire is a possibility. This is the point where 70% of people talk themselves out of their big vision and continue to play small in the false belief of remaining safe. There is no safety in potentially derailing yourself and your career.

I also recommend considering what the values of your organisation are, where you work and see if they’re in alignment with your values. For longevity and lasting success, it’s going to make more sense for you to work for an organisation that shares similar values to you.

If for example creativity or innovation are highly important to you and perhaps you’re in the tech space, then a company like Google could be a good match since their working environment reflects those same values.

This is the type of mindset to develop when managing your career and if you can find an environment/organisation that matches your values, there’s a greater chance for you to experience a successful, rewarding and happy career going forward.

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