Know your values: The first step to an aligned career path!

Hello everyone, 

This is the third blog in a series related to the content of my new book, The Purple Parachute: A Woman’s Guide to Navigating the Winds of Career Change. Last time we covered the introduction of the book, including the A.S.T.E.R. Career Model and discovering your V.I.N.E.S along with the importance of assessment (Chapter One). Now we will begin to break down the V.I.N.E.S. acronym, and this blog will focus on the “V,” which stands for Values. As a reminder, the full acronym stands for Values, Interests, Natural disposition, Exceptional strengths, and Skills. 

Some of you may wonder what values have to do with your career. The truth is that they are foundational to living a purposeful life and career. For this reason, The Purple Parachute addresses values early in the career development process. I’ll share a snippet from Chapter Two that explains how values connect with your career.

“There is a strong association between your career and your values, and when they conflict, it usually leads to anxiety and discomfort. To make my point, I’ll share a couple of examples. If you cherish the earth and consider yourself an environmental champion, you probably don’t want to work for a company that exploits natural resources unsustainably. Or, if you are against war and military build-up of weapons, you may not want to work for a defense contractor.

Both of these examples illustrate a situation where personal values do not match the mission of an organization. This may seem trivial, and you might think, “I’m only an accountant at the company; it’s not like I’m making the weapons.” However, it is very likely that over time, the conflict of values will eat away at you consciously or subconsciously until you decide that the job is no longer working for you. You may not know exactly why, and you may blame it on a bad boss or other circumstances. You may even think that accounting is no longer your passion. While the other things may also be true, in most of these cases, it’s mainly the conflict of values that is the issue. Finding a workplace or industry where your values align with your job will create a more satisfying career situation.”

As you can see from the examples above, having a career that is in alignment with your values helps you live a more authentic and mindful existence. To live an aligned life, you must know your strongest values, and to have a job that satisfies you, you must know the work values that you hold dear. Can you name your top three life or work values? If not, it is worth beginning this exploration. 

If you have never deeply considered your values, starting with life values can provide a good first step. Life values are broad, and your list may include items such as education, equality, efficiency, or honesty. To get started on naming your values, here are a few resources. You can download the free Purple Parachute Workbook, which compiles all the exercises from the book and includes a List of 100 Life Values on page three. Or you can find a cool values assessment in the show notes for the Living into Our Values episode of the BrenBrown’s Unlocking Us podcast here.

As a next step for career management, you want to move from life values to work values because those will be more useful in figuring out a suitable career path. Work values are more specific to the type of job, career, or workplace that you desire. Some jobs are more likely to offer certain work values. For example, working at a high-powered law firm will likely offer high compensation but is not likely to offer a work-life balance. Whereas working as a teacher will likely offer the ability to impact others but is not likely to offer high pay.

Beyond listing your work values, you need to prioritize them because no job will meet all of them. It’s good to come up with your top eight to ten. That amount offers general guidance, but it’s few enough to keep you focused on what’s most important. You will want to note which work values are non-negotiable and which you might be willing to give up for another. Sometimes you will need to revisit your work values list when considering a specific job offer.

Moving into a job search, once you have confirmed your most important work values, investigate industries and organizations that match your values. If you believe in education, working in any type of learning institution may please you, and there are a variety of roles in those types of employers. Broadly consider all levels and types of schools, libraries, training departments in corporations, and bookstores.

Research companies that seem to match your values. You can do some of this legwork online, but you will need to go further. Because companies only put their best foot forward on their marketing materials, you will also need to talk to current or former employees to uncover the company’s values in action. Working within a company’s culture for a period will reveal a company’s “true colors” more accurately than any webpage. Former employees may be more comfortable telling you the good, the bad, and the ugly. While it may not be possible, try to speak with more than one person to avoid a too narrow perspective.

Here are a few materials to help you create your list of top work values.  For free, you can download a copy of my Values Worksheet from my website. Also, offers a free electronically fillable Values Assessment Exercise that looks at your values from both an activity-based and work-life perspective.  For a small fee, there is an online values assessment from that was created by the late Richard Knowdell. Your results come with a grid that allows you to objectively compare different job titles with how well they meet your top values.

After reading this blog post, I hope you can see the importance of uncovering your values and aligning your work values with your career management efforts. In the next book blog, I’ll dive into Chapter Three, which focuses on interests. You’ll learn about the Holland Code and how it can help you find a good job fit. If you don’t want to wait for the whole series of blogs to be created to learn about the full book content, you can watch this 6-minute video that gives an overview.

P.S.  In honor of #IWD2023, I will be hosting a free virtual webinar on the Wisdom from the Purple Parachute. I hope you can join me and share this information with others. This event will share content from the book and how it relates to your career. You can register at this link.

Want to buy a copy of my new book?  On, you can order a paperback, hardcopy, or eBook (through Amazon or Barnes & Noble). Or, if you would like a signed copy, please click on the Purchase Signed Copy button on this page.