I wonder what changes you would make in your life if you were being truly authentic to who you are at the core of your being? Are you stuck in a job or career, relationship or place that is holding you back? You know that you are not spending your time being, doing, having what you really want. Yet, you stay stuck in that place I call the ‘Grey Zone’. It’s that comfortable yet uncomfortable place where you exist knowing that you could do so much more with your life. The main thing keeping us stuck in a rut is fear – fear that by making a change we may end up with something not as good as what we currently have. The trouble is, living with this fear makes us lose respect for ourselves, which can lead to lower confidence, self-respect, frustration and dependency on someone or something else as a result.
This Attitude – ‘I am True to Myself’ – will focus on your career, to help you identify what is most important to you in this important area of your life. You can then assess how your current career shapes up. If you’re at a crossroads in your career, or wanting to embark upon a new one, this Attitude will help you make the right decisions. Once you are familiar with the process, you can use the same technique for other areas of your life, too.
The Power of Values
We are going to find out what’s most important to us in our career by discovering our core personal values in this area. Our values determine how we spend our time. They are the reason that we do what we do. They motivate us to take action and they are the means by which we evaluate ourselves after the event, and decide if we did a good job – or, indeed, the right thing. Our values also provide our moral code, so if we feel uncomfortable about anything we’ve done it’s likely to be due to a conflict of values.
In other words, our values are what are most important to us – and, yet, they are largely unconscious. We know they are there, though, whenever we start to feel uneasy about something. For example, if I’m miserable doing a routine 9 to 5 job, having flexibility is likely to be one of my values. The trouble is that as our values are largely unconscious, we do not know what they are. As a result, we may drift into careers and relationships that are not aligned with our values. We often discover this after the fact, when there is a clash between what is going on around us and how we feel on the inside. This manifests as an inner conflict that leads to us feel unhappy or even ill – and often we don’t know why.
Where do our Values come from?
Our values are instilled in us at an early age, mostly before the age of 7. At this age our surroundings are imprinted upon us with little of our own filtering. For example, our values will be influenced by the values of our parents, close family, environment, school, and everything and everyone else that touches our lives. Our values determine the way we think and how we behave. If you want to find out what your values are, then ask yourself what was important to those around you when you were growing up. It’s likely that you have adopted many of their values.
If we identify and pay attention to our values, we will quickly learn how to be true to ourselves and get a clearer idea of where we want to go over the next stage of our lives. We will begin by identifying your career values, as your work is likely to be one of the key areas of your life. This will be an invaluable learning process for you, whether you are in the right career for you or not. Once you have learned the process, you can then apply it to other areas of your life. For example, you can use it to find out if you are in the right relationship by eliciting your relationship values, or find out what’s important to your wellbeing by eliciting your health and fitness values.
Are you ready to learn something really exciting about yourself?
Your Career Values
These should not be based on the career you are in now but, rather, your ideal career. Of course, if you enjoy what you do then many of these values will overlap. That is absolutely fine.
Activity: My Career Values
When eliciting your career values it’s best to find someone who can work with you to ask you the questions. Choose a friend who can act as your coach for this exercise. You should ask them to keep going with the questioning, even when your answers dry up. This is because your conscious values come out first, as they are at surface level. Your unconscious values and those that you are least aware of are likely to come out later and may prove to be the most important of all the values you identify.
Step 1: Elicitation
Get your exercise partner to ask you the following question: ‘What’s important to you about your career?’ Or use whatever word is most familiar to you eg career, job, work etc. Your partner must write down the words that you say and not suggest any answers, as those are their own values, not yours. In NLP, the words we are listening for are called ‘nominalisations’. These are abstract nouns, for example ‘communication’ is a noun that doesn’t refer to an object that we can see or touch, and is therefore an abstract noun. Another way of thinking about them is that they cannot be put into a wheelbarrow! Listen out for answers such as ‘working in a team’. In these cases, your partner would ask: ‘What does working in a team do or get for you?’ You might then say: ‘I feel like I belong. ‘Belonging’ is the value.
You must tell your exercise partner to expect a first and second ‘wave’ of values from you. The first wave is those values at a more conscious level of awareness. Once these cease to flow, your exercise partner should continue with the questioning and you must pay attention to whatever comes into your mind. These are your unconscious values.
For example, when you are asked what is important to you about your career, you say in quick succession:
- Making a difference
You then say you can’t think of any more. That means you are at the end of the first wave. Your partner carries on regardless, to get your second wave or those values at a more unconscious level. You then say:
So, four more values were identified from the second wave. You then couldn’t think of any more values, so step 1 is finished.
Step 2: Hierarchy of Values
Your exercise partner should now give you the list of values and ask you to pick the top 8, and then rank them in order of priority. This may seem a challenge, and yet it is important to understand the most important through to the least important.
Step 3: Re-write your List
Your exercise partner should then re-write your list in the order you have given. You may find that some of your most important values came out in the second wave of elicitation. This is quite common and means that some of your most important values were those at an unconscious level.
Step 4: How does your Current Career Stack Up?
Go through your list of 8 values and score your current career out of 10 against each value. Anything that scores less than 6 is likely to be an issue for you especially if this is value is in your top ‘3’.
If there is a big gap in some areas, then you may need to ask yourself a couple of questions:
- Without changing your job or career, can you make alterations to what you currently do so that it meets your values more closely? For example, if one of your values is variety and you are in a routine job, can you ask your manager if you can do some new work?
- If this is not possible, is there another career that you should consider? In my experience, it is better to ask yourself first if you can make the current one work. If not, only then should you consider moving on.
Now you know the process of eliciting your career values, it’s time to explore other key areas of your life – such as your relationship. The process is exactly the same. Elicit your values, put them into a hierarchy and then score each out of 10 – depending upon how well your current relationship comes up to scratch.
This blog has discussed how to be true to yourself, even if that means disappointing others in the process. It is so important that your job, relationship and everything else in your life is what you want, and not what you feel you have to have. Only then can you be who you really are. As I’ve shown you, many people sacrifice what’s important to them for a life in the Grey Zone – with the wrong person, in the wrong career, with the wrong friends, living in the wrong place, and so on. They bite their tongues and keep their views to themselves in order to have a quiet life. There’s no excuse for living like that anymore! Take control of your life from now on!