Knowing your work values is important

I recall when Wes Welker, then a wide-receiver for the New England Patriots, declared that the 2011 walkout of NFL players “is pretty sad.” He further told reporters that he was happy to be playing and never imagined he’d be making the money he is. It was obvious he loved football.

This made me think of two things: one, there are professional players who want to play the season and two, money isn’t everything to some of them. Surely pro athletes make more money than most of us could imagine, but for a pro athlete to imply that he makes more money than he should is remarkable and refreshing.

Perhaps the lesson we can take away from Wes Welker’s statement is that money doesn’t define the success of one’s career. What defines the success of one’s career is how rewarding it is. Yes, some would say that money is their most desired value; but it’s a known fact that the majority of employees hold other values closer to their heart.

In a workshop I deliver at our career center, I conduct an exercise on work values, asserting that like life values, we have values that make work rewarding. Many of the workshop attendees list values such as:

  • Achievement: being able to meet your goals.
  • Balance: having time for family, work and play.
  • Independence/Autonomy: control of your own destiny.
  • Influence: able to have an impact on others.
  • Integrity: stand up for your beliefs.
  • Honesty: telling the truth and knowing that others are telling the truth.
  • Power: control over others.
  • Respect: care and trust of self and others.
  • Spirituality: believing in your core beliefs.
  • Status: having influence.
  • Creativity: able to express your personality in your work.

Over the years our values may change. Some of our jobseekers now see health as their number one value, and this comes as no surprise as they are mature workers and their bodies are changing. Personally, I value balance, creativity, and autonomy.

My workshop attendees agree that unless their values are met, they’re unhappy and hope for a job the fulfills their values. Some openly admit that they were unhappy at their last job for various reasons. The goal, then, is to find a job which meets at least three of their values.

I’m curious to know what your three most important values are. Especially if they’re not on the list.


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