My YouTube video today is about how to use your job to get what you want, and the video was specifically about the planning process you’ll want to do first. No more walking into work without a plan, or without knowing what’s really in it for you.
There’s something I touched on in the video, but didn’t go into any detail about, and I wanted to give you a little more here.
I said that as part of your planning, you’re going to identify your values. Those are the things you believe in and hold as most important and true to you. They’re your principles; your moral code. They might be things like family, honesty, kindness, faith, courage, laughter, success, friendship, and on and on.
Later in the video, I said you’ll want to think about how your job already aligns with your values, and how you can help it to align with your values more.
And that’s all I said about it.
So that’s what I want to go into with you now. Because you might not be able to see how your job aligns with your values in any way.
One of your values might be security, and you might work at a company where your sales goals change as soon as you get close to hitting them. One of your values might be charity, and you might work in the most selfish, back-stabbing environment imaginable. One of your values might be travel, and you might work in a cubicle so far from the nearest window, your desk plants are flopping over.
You might value family and be forced to work so much overtime that everyone in your house is asleep whenever you get there. You might value friendship and be surrounded by gossip. You might value adventure and feel so bored by your work that your eyes glaze before you’ve been clocked in for an hour.
How are you supposed to make your job align with your values more, if it doesn’t align with them at all?
It’s going to take a lot of creativity. And it’s going to take - you.
You are going to have to find every way that you can live and demonstrate your values while you’re at work, and you are also going to have to find every way that you can give yourself what you value, despite your work.
So going back to those examples I gave:
If one of your values is security and you’re never able to know what to expect from your paychecks, you might decide to ask for additional responsibilities that would give you predictable income on top of your commission.
You might decide to look into other positions available within the company, and either switch to one of those completely, or have certain days where you do sales, and days where you work in the new position.
You might decide on a certain dollar amount or percentage you can afford to set aside from your paychecks. You might make an unexpected bonus and put the extra money aside, or pay something down or ahead. You might give yourself security by signing up for the benefits your company makes available.
You might decide to use your current job to get income, while you search for something new, or prepare to start your own business.
If one of your values is charity, and you work with people who would break each other’s necks to get ahead, you’ll have to be different than them. You might be the only one. But you’ll need to bring charity into your work by demonstrating it yourself.
It can be with small things. Holding the door open. Helping someone pick up the papers she dropped. Smiling and saying, “Good morning!” in the elevator while everyone sighs and looks at their phones. Posting information in the breakroom about ways you can all serve in your community. Using some extra money now and then to contribute to a need. Using some extra time to volunteer at an event that does good. Helping your coworker to figure out the software or equipment he’s struggling with.
Just looking around for ways to be kind.
If you value travel and work in a tiny space with no field trips on the horizon, you might have to start by giving yourself trips on your own time. Set aside any extra money you can from your paychecks, and save up for a dream destination.
Figure out if there’s a way to evolve your position, to allow for more travel - either on your own time or on the clock.
Maybe you’ll be able to work remotely. Maybe there’s out-of-town assignments you can qualify for. Or a new branch opening in a place you’d like to try living in. Maybe you can get a schedule change to get longer weekends.
Does all that make sense?
There’s most likely not going to be a perfect solution, at least not right away. Sometimes all you can do at first is think differently about the situation, while you have to be in it.
One of my values is family, and when my first daughter was a baby, I had a really hard time for a while with how much time I was working and missing out on her. At first the only thing I could think to do, was remind myself that my work is for my family. It’s helping to provide for them, and it’s making a way for me to give my kids the life I want for them.
Later, I realized if I was really purposeful about being present in each moment I had with my daughter (and with the other one too when she came along), I could get quality time with her, even if it only added up to an hour or two a day. It wasn’t the way I imagined when I was first pregnant and daydreaming about motherhood, but it helped me to be happy, and to feel good about my work.
I hope that makes sense. I know your situation is probably completely different than the random examples I gave, and I know there are so many factors that can make finding a solution… complicated at best. It’s not all as simple as I probably made it sound.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying for.
The more ways you can find to align your work with your values, the happier and more fulfilled you’ll be. No matter what your job is, how you feel about it, and how short you plan to make your stay.
This might take a ton of creativity and brainstorming, but it’s worth your time and effort.
And with all of it, there’s a couple things to keep in mind:
First: it doesn’t have to stay like this forever. I’ve said it a bunch now, and I’ll just keep repeating it. None of what I’m saying means you have to force yourself to stay in your job if you’re ready to move on. And since a job change isn’t always possible the second we want it, you’ll do what you can to give yourself your values in this current position, for however long you’re there.
Second: The flipside is that there will probably never be a job that perfectly-aligns with every value (or interest, or talent, or skillset) you have. Make your decisions to move on with your best judgement, and a… realistic mindset.
Just like marriage, a house, a pet, a city, a book, a movie, a pair of shoes – anything in life – a job is not all perfectly-perfect-in-every-way. There’s usually things we’d change if we could control every aspect of everything.
Remember that, because if you jump from job to job, on a quest to find the one that keeps you constantly in the mood – you’ll never be able to stop searching.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! I’m just one person; it would be a lot more helpful for everyone if we could get other ideas, perspectives, and experiences.
What are your values, and how have you been able to align your work with them, or express them in your work? Or how are you planning to?
Please share in the comments!