Let’s start with the great news. There are many occupations and courses that are a perfect fit to your interests and skills. The trick is to find the right ones for you when there are hundreds to choose from. So you’ll need a strategy.

Finding work that fits with your values can make you feel satisfied with your career. The opposite is also true. That’s why it’s super important to understand what values are the most important to you. Don’t worry about anyone else.

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Here are five core values that can make work meaningful for you:

  • Passion – doing work you enjoy and getting completely absorbed in it.
  • Competence – perfecting your skills, becoming an expert and producing high quality practical results.
  • Dedication to a cause – making a difference to benefits others.
  • Self-expression – expressing your ideals and values through creative work.
  • Entrepreneurship – being resourceful, achievement-focused and goal-oriented. This can mean new and challenging projects, like starting a business or a new way of doing things.

So, what are your core values?

For this exercise, grab a pen and paper and write down the numbers one through to ten, each on a separate line.

Now, read the questions, and decide on the word or phrase that is most true for you. For example, if you see yourself as ‘passionate’ then write the letter ‘C’ alongside number one and so on.

Remember, you can only choose one option each question, so think carefully.

1. I see myself as:

  • a) imaginative
  • b) caring
  • c) passionate
  • d) persistent
  • e) resourceful

2. Other people would describe me as:

  • a) concerned about others
  • b) expressive
  • c) skilled at what I do
  • d) passionate
  • e) achievement-focused

3. Life is a search for:

  • a) achievement
  • b) enjoyment
  • c) competence
  • d) creativity
  • e) a fairer world

4. I want a career that:

  • a) makes the world a better place
  • b) develops my expertise
  • c) challenges me to find new ways of doing things
  • d) uses my creative talents
  • e) lets me work on enjoyable projects

5. I like work that:

  • a) influences others to appreciate my creative ideas
  • b) lets me start something new
  • c) helps others
  • d) suits with my interests
  • e) uses my expertise

6. I prefer to work:

  • a) as a knowledgeable contributor to a team
  • b) as the creative contributor to the team
  • c) as part of a team getting absorbed on projects I love
  • d) as the leader of a new project
  • e) as part of a team working on projects to make things better for others

7. I want my work to:

  • a) have an impact on the lives of others
  • b)  incorporate my vision for new projects
  • c) use my expertise to get results that have a practical application
  • d) provide opportunities to do my own thing
  • e) have work tasks that match my interests

8. I like activities that:

  • a) allow me to use my imagination
  • b) are goal-oriented
  • c) are enjoyable to do
  • d) challenge me to perfect my skills
  • e) contribute to the wellbeing of others

9. I want to use my work skills to:

  • a) create a new business
  • b) create a lasting impression through my creative works
  • c) enjoy what I do
  • d) make the world a better place
  • e) build my expertise

10. I would find work meaningful if I:

  • a) achieve recognition for a job well done
  • b) do what I love to do
  • c) find a new way to do something
  • d) make a difference
  • e) put my name on a creative project

How’d you go with all that?

Now that you’ve finished, compare your answers to the table below.

When looking at the table, are there values that you have more circles in? Are you surprised at which values you have the most circles in? Or are your answers spread evenly across a few? Which values seem most like what you want from work? Try and spend a few minutes reflecting on the questions above.

You might like to grab a drink or stand up and stretch your legs before starting the next exercise.

Your AnswersValues
1c, 2d, 3b, 4e, 5d, 6c, 7e, 8c, 9c, 10b = Passion
1d, 2c, 3c, 4b, 5e, 6a, 7c, 8d, 9d, 10a= Competence
1b, 2a, 3e, 4a, 5c, 6e, 7a, 8e, 9e, 10d= Dedication to a cause
1a, 2b, 3d, 4d, 5a, 6b, 7d, 8a, 9b, 10e= Self-expression
1e, 2e, 3a, 4c, 5b, 6d, 7b, 8b, 9a, 10c= Entrepreneurship

When looking at the table, are there any values that you have more circles in? Are you surprised at which values you have the most circles in? Or are you spread across a few? Which values seems most like what you want from work?

Try and spend a few minutes reflecting on the questions above.

You might like to grab a drink or stand up and stretch your legs before starting the next exercise.

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Have a crack at this online Values Questionnaire.

Here’s another useful exercise to help shed more light on your values. This is an online values questionnaire that will only take a few minutes to complete. But it could also save you from spending years in the wrong course or career.

Visit myfuture Choose My Profile and do the Values activity. When you’ve finished, review your responses. Do you agree with your myfuture values profile?

1 Harris-Tuck, L, Price, A., & Robertson, M. (2004). Career Patterns: A kaleidoscope of possibilities (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education

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