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One Way to Set and Accomplish Goals for More Happiness and Success in Your Career

One Way to Set and Accomplish Goals for More Happiness and Success in Your Career

If you are like most people, the start of the year comes with thoughts on what you want to change, fix, gain, lose, do more of, or do less of in your life. When it comes to careers, the beginning of a new year can provide the needed motivation to take action on big goals you’ve been considering. 

Perhaps you want to:

  • Reach particular milestones, such as advancement or a raise.
  • Engage in professional development activities.
  • Increase your motivation and deal with the unhappiness you’ve been feeling in your career.
  • Finally begin the process of reviewing new job or career options with the ability to make those decisions with clarity and confidence.

[Related: Get More Done With One Simple Word]

No matter your career goals, one of the foundational tools to help you accomplish them is to review your values.

Values are the principles that guide our attitudes and actions. They are the foundational parts of who we are and who we want to be. With respect to our careers, values contribute to making our work fulfilling (or sadly, in many cases, unfulfilling) to us.

When our work activities match what we value, we naturally feel happier. Work that aligns with our values feels more meaningful. With more meaning, we engage more fully and become more productive, thereby promoting stronger work performance, mastery, and success. All this leads to increased happiness. By contrast, when what we do is not aligned with our values, we often feel challenged, distressed, or unhappy.

Test the importance of values in your work.

Think about the last time you were unhappy at work. What were the circumstances? Was there something in the way the situation played out that contradicted your goals and sensibilities — or who you are (or want to be) as a person? Those feelings quite likely reflect core values for you.

Understanding our values has another benefit. It helps us make decisions with more energy and confidence. Think about it this way: Once we know what we stand for, who we are, and what guides us in life, we can more easily make better decisions for ourselves and our future. This is especially true for decisions that would otherwise be particularly intimidating or difficult.

Whether you are contemplating new career options, actively job searching, working on important goals and milestones, or hoping to improve how you feel in your current career, identifying your core (top five or so) values can play a key role.

[Related: Three Ways to Set Boundaries for a Healthier Return to the Office]

So, how do you begin to do this?

Here are some ideas:

1) The U.S. Department of Labor's free Work Values Matcher is a great place to start.

It guides you through ranking specific statements representing career values before producing a quick report identifying the work elements most important to you. It also identifies careers that match your values.

2) Another way is to look at a list of career values is to rank each value that resonates with you in order of its importance to you.

Then narrow the list until you eventually land on your top five. There are plenty of free values exercises online. Or, you can subscribe for a free one here.

3) Yet another method for identifying your core career values is to reflect on some key questions.

Ask yourself the questions below and consider the central themes in your responses:

  • What does your perfect work day look like? Think about your ideal day and describe it in detail.
  • What work projects and responsibilities excite you the most and why?
  • When have you been the happiest, most motivated, and most satisfied at work? Describe the factors involved, what you were doing and who else was there.
  • When have you been the most unhappy, dissatisfied, and unmotivated at work? What were the factors involved? What were you doing? Who else was there?

Take your time working through any one of these exercises, or, better yet, engage with all three. Then, look for the overall themes and patterns. What stands out? Which values influence the others? How much are your values incorporated in your career currently?

If you find that your current job doesn't match your career values, not to worry. This doesn't necessarily mean that you are in the wrong place. Rather, it's an opportunity to potentially make changes in your present position.

For instance, if one of your core values is ongoing learning and you know your job inside and out, you likely feel bored and dissatisfied. So, make a plan for change. Start by asking yourself what you would you like to learn that would benefit you and enhance your role at your organization. Then talk with leadership and propose those learning opportunities, explaining how they can lead to stronger productivity and performance, to the ultimate benefit of your organization.

What if you're in between jobs or you are in a position in which the only real solution for your lack of job satisfaction is to change jobs or careers? Be sure to seek out career options that relate to your values. Look for organizations with core values that align with yours. Ask interview questions with your core values in mind for a sense of whether the job, company, and culture are the best fit for you.

Whatever your career goals, design them with your core values in mind for increased confidence, success, and happiness in your work – and in your life.

[Related: How to Spot the Signs and Know if a Midlife Career Change is Right for You?]


As founder of Accomplished Life Coaching & Consulting, Judy Gielniak is a career coach and consultant helping professionals and executives accomplish career goals for sustained happiness and success in their work. Learn more at Accomplished Life Coaching and Consulting or be in touch at

Want to explore your core values? Download Accomplished Life Coaching & Consulting's free Values Assessment guide to identify and incorporate your core values for greater happiness and success in your career.  

Learn more about how Accomplished Life Coaching & Consulting can support you with free tools, resources, and strategies for sustained happiness and success in your career: www.acclifecoaching.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.


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