Even those who report loving their job run into burnout, creative block, and periods of disinterest. Furthermore, stress and roadblocks are not limited to work; life presents difficulties and tragedies that are out of human control. These stressors can greatly affect our ability to maintain motivation and enthusiasm for work. However, during these periods of struggle, remembering personal values can help revive our spirits, and even inspire us to find new positives in our working environments. Today, Team HJG is exploring 5 ways to use personal values to restore energy and overcome obstacles.
Before we begin, it is vital to receive help if you are dealing with depression, anxiety, and/or any other mental health challenges. If you are struggling to find help, resources such as Nami can help you.
- Match Values to Work Tasks
If you are unclear of your personal values, there are free assessments that identify values most important to you. Values include things such as openness, family, personal growth, compassion, spirituality, etc. You can also google a list of values and choose your top 5.
Knowing your values is important, because it can assist in helping you enmesh those values with your daily actions. Dolores, a customer service representative says, “I got my customer service job out of college. It wasn’t necessarily a dream job, but a good starting place. After a while, I felt defeated, like I wasn’t really contributing to society.” However, after her manager distributed a values assessment, her perspective shifted. “One of my top values is kindness. Sometimes in customer service, the people I talk to can be frustrated and impatient. This is when I remember my value of being kind. It usually diffuses the mood.”
According to an article by CNBC in 2021, in the post-covid world, only 7% of Americans have their dream job. While working towards an ideal career is admirable, the truth is that many people don’t know what their dream career is. This is perfectly okay and normal and can make the implementation of values even more effective.
2. Speak to Your Manager:
If you have trouble identifying the values to implement into your current work tasks, try speaking with your manager. Beforehand, try to brainstorm ideas of tasks that can contribute to your work and align with your value system. For instance, Jameel, a science teacher, enjoys his job but wanted to utilize his value of environmental awareness. He met with his principal and presented an idea for an environmental club. “The idea was approved, and now I teach young minds the importance of environmental preservation. We even have a garden now.”
Sometimes, weaving values with work can take creativity. One way to assist the brainstorming process is to list your top 5 values on paper and under each value, write ideas for each one. You might find more ideas beneath one value, and that’s okay. Taking the time to write out ideas not only rejuvenates your mind, but also shows your manager your enthusiasm and commitment.
If you are your own manager, this activity can still help you identify areas that you’d like to alter, or new ideas to bring to your work life or team.
3. Community Service:
Participating in community service is another fantastic way to align work with values. At HJG Staffing, we choose a different service project every quarter. If you belong to a team, voting on service projects or allowing each member to choose in rotation can be an effective way to meet everyone’s values through service.
For example, one of Cindy’s top values is success. When it comes to choosing a service project, she has discovered ways to help many individuals prepare for success. “One service project I chose was volunteering each Friday for one month. My team would tutor young children on organizational and basic life skills. I wish I had this as a child, so it’s even more special.”
There are so many opportunities for service from donation drives to in-person volunteer opportunities. Giving back helps others and connects us to community. In fact, according to the National Library of Medicine, “…community services can play a crucial role in promoting mental health awareness, reducing stigma and discrimination, supporting recovery and social inclusion, and preventing mental disorders.”
4. Think Small:
Sometimes, we search our brains for big ideas and monumental changes. While it’s okay to view the big picture, sometimes zooming in can offer a simple look at small yet effective strategies. For instance, if you value trust, signing up for team-building/trust workshops is a great idea. However, a smaller change could be regularly meeting with your manager or team and practicing open and honest communication.
Starting small can be less overwhelming and help create change in small and even big ways. “One value that I’ve always held is hospitality,” says Frederick, an IT engineer. “I like to bring this value to my workplace in fun ways. Sometimes, I surprise the office with donuts or nice little treats.” Frederick’s example shows that implementing values doesn’t always have to be elaborate. Sometimes, simplicity goes a long way.
Valuing community at work can be as simple as sending emails to team members thanking them or complimenting them on something. “I try my best to speak words of affirmation to my co-workers when they’ve impacted my day, whether big or small. It’s always nice to know your efforts are noticed,” says Monica, a salesperson.
5. Consider a Job Change
At the end of the day, knowing your values and trying to utilize them at your job can be life-changing. However, if you’ve exhausted your efforts and continue to find regular difficulties and unhappiness in your field of work, it might be time to make a change. Switching jobs is not always easy but using your values can help. “I worked in a daycare, and I loved it, but I always felt like something was missing,” says Missy. “When I studied my values, I realized that I loved my work with children, but I wanted to work with special-needs children.”
Sometimes the switch might be minor, but it might be a complete change in career path. Joe used to teach middle school, and while he enjoyed aspects of the job, his value of work-life balance was completely one-sided. Teaching took up so much of his time outside of work, making him feel depleted and resentful. Now, he works from home tutoring online and finds this balance to be rewarding and aligned with his values.
There are free career aptitude tests online that can help you identify certain jobs that might be a beneficial fit, and they even consider your values in the process.
Burnout, boredom, and lack of motivation don’t discriminate. People who love their line of work still find themselves in periods of difficulty. It is important to remember that this is a normal feeling. However, taking steps to identify your personal values and implement them into your work can make an effective difference in your day to day. The individual values we bring to a team can make positive change and build an atmosphere of community and teamwork, while improving individual mental health.