Why understanding our values is important

What are values?

Values represent what matters and what is important to us. They are the underlying principles, motivations and attitudes that are personally significant.  They guide our behaviour, both in and outside work. How contented and motivated we feel,  is underpinned by they way in which what we do, complements or coincides with our values.

They are the reason we get up in the morning, they motivate our choices and impact our behaviour.

When our choices are in sync with our values, the more likely we are to feel satisfied, motivated and engaged. If there is a gap between our values and our actions, the likelihood of feelings of frustration and demotivation increases.

It is therefore really important to spend some time reflecting on our key core values and checking that our goals and actions are in line with them, especially when making career decisions.

Examples of core values might be health, integrity, intellectual stimulation, community, diversity or being a good parent.  Understanding the reasons we select certain values leads to greater understanding of our motivators.


To gain any clarity around what is important to us so that we can lead a life that is satisfying and successful (according to our individual definitions of both of those words, of course) understanding our values is vital.  This allows us to prioritise and make consistent decisions. They also provide a benchmark that acts as our compass, to let us know when we are off centre.

Respectful behaviour is very important to Simon. He joined a new, cutting edge brand management team, where verbal teasing banter and “blue” jokes were the norm for the group, and he often felt excluded and uncomfortable. He realised afterwards, that in the interview process there had been a number of tells, but he had quashed his doubts because the job content was so attractive and he badly wanted the brand name on his CV. He waited an appropriate amount of time and applied for a transfer.


Time is a finite resource. One of the things we all struggle with is the amount of time we have available to us.  Understanding our values allows us to:

  • Prioritise: Understanding our values allows us to put the important things first. This helps us achieve better time management, because we don’t waste time on activities we know have less meaning to us. This leads to conscious priority setting.
  • Be consistent: Our decisions also become more consistent, which leads to faster and more effective progress. We are no longer filled with doubts, because we know well what counts and where  our priorities lie.
  • Benchmark:  It also helps us avoid taking decisions which are not in line with our longer term goals. The greater the clarity around our values, the easier it is to identify the reason for any non – alignment.

The root of any career problem can often be tracked to professional and personal goals being out of alignment, not just with each other, but our core values as well. Issues with career choices very often spill into our personal lives and sadly can cause damage there too, impacting our closest relationships.

There is no substitute for reflecting on what matters most to you. Many people don’t make the time, or don’t know how to, carry out this most basic exercise.

Do you understand your core values?



4 thoughts on “Why understanding our values is important

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