How to Create a Values-Based Career

What are values – really?

“Sociology . the ideals, customs, institutions, etc., of a society toward which the people of the group have an affective regard. These values may be positive, as cleanliness, freedom, or education, or negative, as cruelty, crime, or blasphemy. ”

We hear the term battered around, but do you really know what your values are? Values are what you, personally, consider to be really and truly important. And here’s the challenge – this is completely subjective and often completely unconscious.

There are no objectively “true” values. And yet people die every day over values-based disagreements. But that’s a different conversation.

How do I Create My Business to Suit My Values?

First, we have to discover what our values are. In order to do this, we must, in the words of Bill W., make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

And let’s be clear with our terminology. The dictionary definition of moral is “conforming to the rules of right conduct.” In other words, morals are just values that lots of people have agreed are “good”. So the essence of this step is to take a searching and fearless inventory of our conduct.

What we do reveals what we believe is important. It may NOT be what we would like to think we believe is important. This is a critical distinction.

So, sit down and make a list of your values. Create some space where you can be uninterrupted and brainstorm a list of all the things that are important to you. Use these questions to stimulate your thought process:

  • What is important to me?
  • What else is important to me?
  • How am I spending my time and what value does that express?
  • How am I spending my time at work?
  • How am I spending my time with regard to family and friends?
  • What are my self-care habits?
  • How do I treat others?
  • How do I allow others to treat me? And what does that tell me is important to me?

You must think of this as a brainstorming exercise. It is critically important that you write it all down. Be courageously and brutally honest with yourself.

Do Not Edit Out the Values You are Embarrassed or Ashamed of!

The first step is to look at yourself with curiosity, generosity and love. What is true now? When it comes to values, our judgment of what’s Right or Moral can destroy our objectivity and our ability to change.

If you look at your behavior with judgment and shame yourself for what you see, you will not change! Your very judgment of your behavior as “bad and wrong” keeps you frozen in your growth. It actually reinforces the behavior.

Stop Beating Up on Yourself!

Begin this process with the determination that no matter what you discover about yourself, no matter what “bad habits” or “wrong behaviors” you discover, you are OK, just as you are. Without this basis of love and acceptance, there can be no growth, no development, and no real internal change.

This may feel counter-intuitive. If I don’t disapprove of my behavior, what would motivate me to change? Think of it this way – if you beat a dog into submission, to get him to behave, he will behave as long as you are watching him. But when you aren’t there, his bad behavior will return or even get worse. And one day, while you are beating him, he will turn on you. Any dog trainer will tell you, it’s much easier to get consistent good behavior through loyalty and love.

So with a fearless heart, notice “the shoulds” – what “should” be important to you? Notice the gap between what you want to be important to you and what your behavior demonstrates. You’ve heard the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” What are you doing? What are your current values?

The truth is that you are already creating your business (and your world) to suit your values. If you don’t like what you’re creating, if you’re not satisfied with your outcomes, then begin to choose different values. This is the secret of real and sustainable success.