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ImageThe first in a regular series of articles by Caroline Harper Jantuah that will focus on personal development, providing tips and techniques to enhance your self awareness and round out your interpersonal skills.

Are you living your best life? Do you know what matters to you and is this serving as a guide to the decisions you are making about your life?

A few years back Seyi worked in an international company, where she was valued and her career prospects were good. She had waited a long time to become a parent and being there for her son was very important to her. As the result of a reorganisation she was offered an international role and was faced with the dilemma of what to do – accept what was a dream job or opt for redundancy. Well, whilst it was an agonising weekend trying to figure out what to do, in the end knowing what was more important to her at that moment helped her make a decision. She declined the new position, opted for redundancy and went on to set up her own business built around her need to spend time with her son.  This was a person who had clarity about what mattered to her and was able to use this as a principle on which to base her decision.

Evaluating Opportunities in the Workplace

Key defining moments in our lives can come when we least expect them. Opportunities in the workplace do not always come in the shape or form that we expect them to.  Knowing what your values are (i.e. what matters) will better equip you to make informed decisions.

One way to establish what matters is to take the time to write down your answers to the following questions –  jot down whatever comes to mind and keep going till you dry up or find yourself writing down the same words

Alternatively talk through your responses with a friend or colleague.

  1. What’s important to you about your career? (work, business or whatever best applies to your circumstance) E.g. One of Seyi’s values was a job that fitted around time with her son.

  2. Can you remember a time when you were totally motivated in the context of your career? What was it about that job, project or activity that caused you to be totally motivated? What‘s important to you about that? ( e.g. challenge or financial reward) Add these to the list. Can you think of another time when you were totally motivated? What was it about this second example? Add this to the list as well.

  3. Review your list - Is anything missing? – Ask yourself if you were in a career or job or made a job offer that met all the values on your list, is there anything that could happen to make you leave or say No? Add this to the list.

  4. The next step is to identify and number the top 8 values according to their importance to you. 1 being the most important.

  5. You can test that you have ordered the list correctly by imagining that you had a choice between two careers or jobs etc, one that met your values 5 – 8 and another that met your values 1-4. Of the two which would you choose? If you have prioritised correctly then the offer with values 1-4 should be the most attractive. If not, review the 8 values again

Applying your Values to your Career

You can now use this list of values in a number of ways – to take stock of how well what you are currently doing meets these values and identify what changes if any you wish to make; use as one of the criteria in seeking out a new career or job or different organisation to work for; as a guide on how to get more satisfaction our of your current role – i.e. know what matters to you and seek to have more of that.

Finally take note that values can and do change and so it is good practice to go through an exercise like this every so often. Also work or career values are very likely to be different to the values you hold dear for other aspects of your life. So you can apply this exercise in the area of relationships, health, finances, family and so on.

ImageCaroline Harper Jantuah is an executive coach and organisation development consultant, who is passionate about enabling othersto be the best they want to be and in so doing live more fulfilling lives. Director of Xerion Consulting and the Diversity Practice since 2001, she is currently working on a study called Different Women Different Places, a study into the careers and lives of black and minority ethnic women working across Europe.

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