What comes to mind when you think about your morals and values? Is it plausible to think these very basic principles could quite possibly be responsible for your perception of the world around you? What about the effect they have on your job or your work ethic?
Family development expert Stephen J. Bavolek defines our morals as a code of conduct with identified rights and wrongs; he defines our values as set of beliefs that have worth. Our values and morals were developed even before we were born by our families of origin, and we contribute a few minor tweaks here and there along the way.
These core beliefs are deeply rooted and highly individualized. They help make up and define who we are when no one is watching, and they have a serious impact on how effective or ineffective we are at our jobs. Regardless of the type of work you do or where you work, understanding this complex belief system that guides you is essential when it comes to meeting your goals and being successful in your career.
But how does one determine what one’s core values are? And how does one then use those values to become a better employee or boss? Here are three steps to get you started:
1. Understand Who You Are
Understanding who you are is the first step in uncovering your core values. Start by identifying your likes, dislikes, interests, etc.
Note that negative experiences can cause some individuals to struggle when they attempt to pinpoint a few positives about themselves. These same individuals, however, are very quick to identify and point out all the negatives about themselves. They also tend to say what they think others want to hear. In light of all of this, they are unable to be true to themselves and, by definition, are unable to ever really understand their core identities. This lack of self-awareness or self-confidence can deter an individual from becoming the best version of themselves.
How does this affect your career? By understanding who you are, you can consciously work to obtain a position or career that matches your core values. Such a career would be intrinsically rewarding to you, and you would have an easier time putting in the effort and advancing in that field.
Society can be very negative these days, and all the negativity around us can trigger a negative self-concept and a lack of self-esteem. The constant pressure we feel to be what society wants us to be is in direct conflict with who we would become if we were able to simply focus that energy inward. You cannot find yourself if you pursue the dreams of another.
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So ask yourself: Who am I? What field of work would I be successful in? Once you know the answers, pursue them.
If you need additional guidance, it may be beneficial to complete an aptitude test of some sort in order to determine what field of work would best match your core values. That said, be sure to always listen to your intuition. It isn’t a gift you were given on accident.
2. Accept Who You Are
Once you understand who you are, you must accept it and the career path that matches it. This has to be done without exception or hesitation. More than that, you have to love yourself unconditionally.
Please hear me when I say it is not possible to truly succeed in your line of work if the career path you choose does not match your personality or core values. Because your neighbor is a bank manager does not mean you should be a bank manager (unless that is truly your calling). Sure, you might be able to do the work competently, but you will never truly excel at it.
Excellence is born from passion. True passion and love for what you are doing cannot be manufactured based on another person’s ideal of what you should be doing.
3. Listen to Your Intuition
Once you understand who you are and learn to accept it, take note of what your intuition is telling you. It is important that you take a personal inventory here so you can be sure that your heart is in alignment with your mind. Do not rush the process.
The heart-mind alliance is necessary if you want to stay true to your core values and be successful in what you do. Impulsive decisions can lead to unknowingly compromising your value system, resulting in unnecessary frustration and unaccomplished goals.
Do not sell yourself short. Be a leader, and be proud of who you are in the workplace. Your morals and values will be a guiding light throughout your career and your life as a whole.
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Emeka Anyiam, PhD, LMFT, is founder and CEO of Embridge Counseling Services. A man of humble beginnings, he was born in the small town of Nkwerre, located in Imo State, Nigeria. After landing in New Jersey in 1991, despite speaking very little English, he was soon able to complete the difficult process of becoming an American citizen and finally realize his long-held dream of getting a formal education. Dr. Anyiam holds an undergraduate degree in sociology, a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, and a doctoral degree in ministry. With more than a decade of experience as a licensed marriage and family therapist in Florida, Dr. Anyiam’s passion is teaching and guiding others to truly embrace their situation, good or bad, so they can become the best version of themselves.