Create photo from ShutterstockI have several quotations on the wall in my office. One of them is the following:

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. (George Bernard Shaw)

Why did I select this quote to display to my clients? Because I believe, to be most meaningful, their careers must be created and not simply found through happenstance.

One point from which career counseling can start is your values. I find that many people in their 40’s and 50’s are searching for more meaningfulness in their work… trying to elevate their work beyond merely what they are capable of doing and toward work that connects with their higher values.

Regardless of how far down your career path your are, it’s never too late to begin examining your values and considering how you might do work you find more meaningful. To help you begin this process, here are some words that you might associate with things you value. Pick the four phrases that, if more available in your work and career results, you would most desire:

  • Feeling of accomplishment
  • Helping others
  • Solving complex problems
  • Making more money
  • Learning and growing
  • Being acknowledged for contributions
  • Having a comfortable environment
  • Participating with a team
  • Gaining status/title
  • Becoming an expert
  • Increasing job security
  • Controlling daily schedule
  • Using creativity
  • Experiencing change and variety

If you had other ideas of phrases that would describe valuable things to have in your career, feel free to list them.

I hope that this simple exercise will begin to get you thinking about what you want from your career and work. By identifying things you value (and would value), you can better evaluate your current career path and consider alternatives that will allow you to create a more meaningful path for your future.

If I have gotten you interested, then take the next step and conduct some internet searches using the term “career values”. You should be able to find a variety of exercises and assessments that will continue to expand your thinking and help you identify key values that can guide your future career choices.