Gone are the days when most people would remain in one career throughout their working life.
A recent report showed that the current generation of young workers will change jobs about 17 times and explore five entirely different career fields.
The kinds of skills needed to succeed at work are also changing, with increased automation of the tasks once done by humans and globalisation completely transforming the landscape of work.
Aligning your career path with your values is important for feeling engaged, motivated, and fulfilled at work, but what does it entail?
We spoke to career coach Jackie Marsterson to gain some insight into how to pursue a values-based career.
What is a values-based career?
Aligning your work with your values starts with a deep sense of self-awareness about your principles and beliefs and using those to guide your career decisions.
“It requires the individual to be reflective of their drivers, not to be influenced by others and to ensure the work you choose to do is aligned to your personality rather than more obvious factors such as prestige, money, or following in the footsteps of others,” said Marsterson.
But knowing what your values are is not always as simple as it sounds, as many people are influenced from an early age by family, friends, teachers, and colleagues into a particular career path before they really have a chance to tune into what matters to them.
Marsterson suggests starting by determining your values with the aid of a Personal Values Assessment tool, either online or using pen and paper.
“A simple start is to write down what is important to you in a role and asking yourself what you were doing when you felt energised, what you would not compromise in a job, and what environment you would like to work in,” she said.
“You can then make a list of possible values such as creativity, helping others, solving problems, or working outdoors, rate them from 1 – 5, and really think about what they mean to you.”
Once you start delving into where your passions and beliefs lie, you’ll likely start to notice patterns that will help brainstorm the types of careers that will fulfil your needs and internal motivators.
Taking the leap into a values-based career
Even once you have determined what your values are, making a big change is often scary, but the consequences of not doing so may be reason enough to take the risk.
Research has found a strong link between job dissatisfaction and adverse health consequences, including depression, sleeping difficulties, excessive worry, back pain, and frequent colds.
Making the transition to a more rewarding career can seem overwhelming, so break it down into manageable steps and seek supports where necessary.
Start by exploring what types of new or unfamiliar career options exist that may align more closely with your values by reading position descriptions on job search engines, researching companies that share your principles and beliefs, or using online career exploration tools to investigate your options.
If you’re still unsure, accessing the help of an expert such as a professional career coach can be helpful, as they can provide valuable industry insights, a thorough understanding of the job market, and an objective source of feedback and advice.
This type of input can be hard to attain from friends and loved ones who are likely influenced by their own belief systems and existing perceptions of your strengths and preferences.
“Having a career coach to work with gives you the opportunity to see your situation from a different perspective, guided by a professional,” said Marsterson.
A typical career coaching session lasts about 60 – 90 minutes and often includes an initial personality, interests, and values assessment to provide a starting point for discussion.
“The career coach will facilitate the process for change but will not tell the individual what to do – this will need to come from the individual,” said Marsterson.
“Often, certain behaviours will be challenged such as limiting beliefs of their own ability which has prevented them from moving forward.”
“Making a career change, whatever it may be, requires work and commitment. It is important to acknowledge that there is no quick fix but, like anything, the more effort you put in the more you will get back,” said Marsterson.
Most adults spend about a third of their lives at work, so investing the time and energy to pursue a career that is meaningful to you will be well worth it in the long run.
TELL US: Have you followed a values-based career? If so, how did you define your values to align with your career path? Share your story in the comments section below.