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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Values, Career-Life Decisions & The Holidays


Values are the basis of all that we do in life, the basis of all our
career-life decisions, the basis of everything we have done, are doing, and will do during our life journey, including each of our numerous life transitions. They are the cornerstones of our lives, our guiding stars, the "recipe for our happiness and success"~if you are able to discern your true values from your false values.

Imagine there are only two different types of values; those that are our true values informed by True Self, and those that are our false values, some of which are informed by False Self, and most of which are simply NOT what's truly important to us, only we "think" they are important and therefore usually act on these mis-directing values. Aspects of pop culture can inform these false values.

At some deep level within each of us, when we act on our false values vs our true values, this causes a values conflict, a conflict, I believe, all of us experience throughout most of our lives until we are better able to discern how to act more in line with our True Self-guided inner core values I call
DOVE Values (Depth-Orientdd Values Extraction), that can be discovered through values clarification.

For example, are you seeking a certain line of work or position for money, power, or prestige, perhaps even because you believe by making this choice you will be gaining love and/or approval from a parent/spouse/partner, OR because you believe that this is what YOU truly want to do for YOU, and by doing this line of work, you can make a real difference? Values are an integral part of this decision-making process, consciously or sub-consciously.

Other examples might involve the following dilemma. Do you feel "obliged" to buy certain people gifts or send them cards, or do you feel inspired and joyful to do so? Do you feel excited to attend holiday family gatherings, or anxious because of those harassing questions from relatives and friends about your employment or relationship status? Again, the role of values are an integral part of how we process situations, relationships, and decision-making, consciously or sub-consciously.


This isn't a trick question. It's an opportunity to reflect on your values. For some, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Al-Hijira, etc., might focus on being thankful for blessings e.g., family, a measure of goodness in one's life, or even important basics such as having a job, and being healthy. For others these celebrations might focus on religious, cultural, and historical heritage. For many, they are about a holiday from work, time with family and friends to attend to the latest movie premier, watching sports events, and taking advantage of great holiday sales available on-line or in retail stores.

For some, these special times are about giving to others and making others happy. For others, it's about receiving and being thankful for whatever is given to them from others, God/Higher Power, or just being alive and appreciating the beauty of small events such as watching a little bird look for food, two butterflies playing together around wild flowers, a child learning how to discover her world with her new awareness of "touch", or gazing into the night skies for a moment toward our multiverse with trillions of galaxies and many more twinkling stars than we could ever imagine, let alone see.

For many of us, it's a "both/and".

For ALL of us, it's a reflection of our values~what's important to us.

VALUES:The Stepping Stones for ALL Our Career-Life Journeys

Ever feel confused about what to do?, which way to go?, what college major is/was the "right" one?, what job is/was the "right" one?, what relationship is/was the "right" one?, should you quit?, what to say?, what if things don't work out?, and SO many other similar questions that basically challenge us with ONE main question, "which decision IS truly the best"? Welcome to VALUES 101!

Holidays often push us in some powerful ways to face our values, and the ensuing conflict that often exists between our "expressed values" (values we "think" are our values that we usually and readily are able to name and identify), and our "implied/hidden values" (values that truly ARE our values, but remain hidden, often unseen for years, but are there, deep within us, and cause us angst when we make decisions that move our lives away from them).

We love our parents, relatives, and certain friends, yet we may feel hesitation for any number of reasons to make certain career-life choices, even travel home to attend the family get-togethers, and deal with people's stuff, including of course our own. What if we are still unemployed or underemployed and have to face the usual probing questions, "So have you FINALLY found the 'right' job, college major, or woman/man in your life so you can get married and start a family?" Ouch! I think I'll go into the kitchen and get some more egg nog!


By three methods may we learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is the noblest; second, by imitation, which is the easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest" ~ Confucius

Reflection is really the best way to discern one's values and acquire wisdom.

Most of us travel the road of experience which does work for the most part, but can often be pretty painful with its bumps and pot holes!

Some of us imitate right behavior when we observe it, and even the act of imitation does require some measure of reflection.

(have a paper and pen available to write your responses to these questions)

Take about three minutes to move yourself from the outside world and its sea of noise. Breathe slowly and deeply several times to change your body physiology and brain chemistry. Then, reflect on your present career-life situation, exactly where you are right now in your life journey. 

  • Are you at a crossroad, and what is the nature of what you are facing? (describe this in one sentence) 
  • What feelings, not thoughts, does this bring up for you such as sadness, frustration, joy, anger, excitement, confusion, desperation, or freedom? (write these down) 
  • What are your reflections about your feelings? (write several sentences) 
  • Review your reflections, and ask yourself, "what is the main message I am getting from reading my reflections about my feelings"? (write this down in one sentence) 
  • How can you summarize this one sentence into three words? (write your three words on your paper) 
  • How do these three words translate into one or two VALUES~that which is very important to you? (write your one or two values on your paper) 
  • How do the values you might have discovered from this activity affect how and why you make career-life decisions? (write your insights on your paper and take time to further reflect on what you have written) 

I have mentioned True Self and False Self in this post, and will present a discussion in my next post, Learning To Love Yourself, about “Regular Self”, “True Self”, and “False Self”, and how to use this paradigm to move towards less attachment while still maintaining passion for much in your life that is important to you, including your work and relationships.

One critical key to successfully deal with ALL your career-life transitions, your willingness and ability to NOT be attached to outcomes, will also be discussed in my next post.


This post deals with concepts contained in my self-paced workbook, Creating Careers with Confidence, published by Pearson/Prentice Hall. A special Holiday post offers some excellent links including a fabulous music video at the base of the Christmas Tree where Gift-Tips for job seekers are available for you and your friends.

Career-Life Change 12-Step Checklist offers additional questions to facilitate your transition and are located at the end of a previous post.

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Thank you and warm regards, EdC