The other day, I was thinking about my career and the different positions that I’ve held throughout the years. There have been times that I’ve been happy and there have been times in my career that I’ve been miserable — maybe you’ve felt this way too. I remember a friend telling me that she hoped I’d finally figure out what and where I wanted to be in life. At one point, I considered that maybe I was born with some sort of defect that prevented me from figuring out what direction to take in life.
Now that I’m older and wiser, I better understand all the career decisions I made and why. I can comprehend why I was so unhappy in certain environments and why others made me feel energized. I now know that it all came down to being true to the values that I hold in my life. If I honored those things that were truly important to me and made certain that I received them at work, then I would find the happiness that I was searching for so desperately.
I highly value being in an environment where I can constantly be learning.
Being thrown into a new environment and figuring out how to make it work is my idea of a good time. For others, it’s a death sentence. As soon as a position becomes repetitive, I’m in trouble. I’m constantly looking for that next step, next opportunity, that next big thing! Growing and expanding my knowledge base is an integral piece of what I value in a job. If I don’t have this kind of experience, I’m not going to be satisfied. If I can’t see where I grow next, I’ll struggle to be happy.
I highly value the ability to stretch my wings in my job.
If I feel that the position is too structured, I wither away. That isn’t to say that I can’t follow authority. However, if the authority attempts to control or regulate me too much, it will not be a work environment that fuels success for me. I need to be able to think for myself and create my workspace the way I deem fit. I’ve had a few bosses that sensed this and gave me the space I needed to be successful. I’ve also had ones that held on tighter. The latter didn’t end well. I recognize that I’m a free thinker and do best when given the freedom to explore.
Nothing is more important to me than working in an environment where people have integrity and honesty.
I’m a straight shooter and get extremely frustrated with individuals that dance around an issue or outright lie and don’t take responsibility. Confrontation is not a horrible thing when handled in a professional and appropriate manner. I need to have respect from the people that I work with and if I don’t see that, I find it difficult to stay the course.
I’ve shared my top three values because I hope it sparks your own thinking on the topic. What do you value in your professional career? Like I did above, try to identify your top three values. Think back to some of your triggers at work, some of the things that frustrated you—you’ll begin to see what you find important. Is it making sure you have time for family or is it making sure that the position is risk-free and stable? Is it your ability to financially support your family or is it the need to “make a difference” in people’s lives? Do some soul searching and tease out what’s important to you above all else.
Once you have this information, you’ll be armed to find where you belong.