Calling Tools

Values in Work and Life

To choose a direction in life, it’s important to understand what priority you set on particular values in life and in the workplace.

Values - Principles or standards of behavior; one's judgement of what is important in life.


“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived; it is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

— Nelson Mandela


Your Ideal Satisfying Job (values for wellbeing in the work environment)

To identify the qualities of a job that help you experience wellbeing in the workplace:

Identify the most and least satisfying jobs you have ever had. 

  • What aspects about these jobs made them the most enjoyable? What were your successes?

  • What aspects made them the most disagreeable? What did you feel were some failures?

  • What made you look forward to going into work on a Monday morning? 

  • What made you dread going to work on Monday morning? 

  • Visualize yourself in a career you love. What does it look like? 

  • Which of the following stand out as key career drivers for you? How important is it to you and why does it matter? What implications does each area have for your career choice? How does it match your current or planned choice? 

  • Task variety

  • Relationships with colleagues, personal connection, sense of community

  • Working conditions

  • Workload – heavy, intense, light, pace

  • Educational and developmental opportunities for personal growth

  • Congruence (person-environment fit)

  • Technical competence – setting to use and improve my technical skills

  • General managerial competence – ability to lead in the organization

  • Security and stability – stable funding, stable staff setting, predictability, personal financial security

  • Entrepreneurial creativity – the opportunity to think outside the box and implement new ideas, with creativity and self-expression

  • Autonomy and independence - ability to work alone, make decisions, or work in a team setting

  • Service and dedication to a cause; social impact; altruism, helping others, outreach

  • Geographic location

  • Physical environment – office, indoors or outdoors…

  • Pure challenge, sporadic or continuing

  • Lifestyle (work/life balance)

  • Power and status

Download a “wheel of life” available online. Label each spoke as a different career element that is important to you, such as those described above (autonomy, work conditions, colleagues, opportunities for learning, service component, challenge, salary, etc.) 

  • Color in each segment according to how fulfilled you feel in that part of your career. This gives you a visual analysis of your current situation. 

  • What aspects are working well for you, and what are not? 

  • What options do you have to address the areas that are not going well? 

  • What does this say about your values/priorities in a work or career setting? 

Prioritize your work preferences – try this worksheet


"May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears."

— Nelson Mandela


Retirement Party

What would you like your colleagues to say about you? 

Imagine you have come to the end of your formal work life, and your colleagues, who have worked with you for several years, throw a celebration for you.  

  • Identify the most important thing you hope your colleagues would say about you in a speech. 

  • What does this say about the values you want to live by in your career?


"Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."

--Nelson Mandela

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” 

--Michelle Obama

Back to: Step 2: Know Who You AreNext page: Know Your Talents