A Value Based Approach To Choosing A Career
Whether you are fresh out of the corridors of education or some years into your working life, defining your ideal career choice will allow you to focus your energies like a laser beam and give you a better chance of actualising your dreams.
The nature of work (i.e. the amount of time we spend at it) means that it affects life more than many other things so to be unhappy with your job often means to be downbeat in general. This is why identifying a career that dovetails with your values results in a far more rewarding experience in the long run.
What Are My Values?
To locate your ideal occupation, you must first look inwards and ask yourself what your true values are in life. Grab a piece of paper and just start writing a list of words that you think best describe you and how you want to live your life. The trick is not to question each word that pops into your head but to just right them down and try to do this as fast as possible as this is when the brain is at its most honest.
These words can be anything you like from “balance” to “energetic” but once you have your list, try to write a short sentence next to each to elaborate more on why this word is important to you.
It's almost like writing a dating profile – except this time you want to impress yourself rather than a potential partner. If you want to give each word a score out of 5, this will help you to prioritise which values are closest to your heart and which might be more flexible.
Of course, you could take one of the many online personality tests but remember that these are more guided and have less freedom than you, your mind, a pen and paper as in the exercise above so do not substitute one for the other – they are both useful.
What Lifestyle Do I Want To Lead?
With the information gathered during the value exercises above, you can begin to formulate some ideas of what type of lifestyle you would like to lead. It is easiest if you ask yourself a number of questions such as:
- How many hours would I like to work per week?
- Would I be happy with an office based job?
- Would I enjoy a client/customer facing role?
- Is the social aspect of work important to me?
- Do I prefer close supervision or a more autonomous approach?
By asking these and similar questions, you can begin to evaluate how you can match your values with the kind of lifestyle you want to lead. This will, in turn, determine the goals that you set yourself to bring reality closer to your values.
When you're making your goals, there is one very helpful acronym that will make your goals a lot more useful and valuable. In case you hadn't guessed already, that is S.M.A.R.T. which stands for:
S – Specific
M – Measureable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Timed
You see, unless you know exactly what it is you want, can figure out a way to manage it and know when you want to complete it by, having a goal doesn't necessarily mean much.
For instance, you might set yourself a goal of opening your own shop by the age of 35; this is certainly a specific and measurable goal with a clear time limit defined, whether it is such a realistic thing to achieve is another thing entirely. You'd have to consider the start-up costs involved, whether or not you could save or borrow that amount and whether there is enough time for you to reach this position by your stated deadline.
This is just one example but you can see how the SMART approach can help define proper goals for your career.
An important thing to remember is that your career should help you reach your goals in life and should not be seen as obstacles in your path. Work is an inevitable part of life and to see it as anything else is setting yourself up for disappointment.
Once you have decided the type of career that is right for you, using job search sites such as the Universal Job Board will help you locate and land such work.