Soul Survival

By: Annette Richmond

When considering a job, how much time do you spend thinking about your values? If you're like most people not much time at all. True, just about everyone is concerned about money. Some people consider whether a company has opportunities for advancement.

But what about the things that make us feel good about our job? And by extension ourselves? The intangibles, things that are difficult to define and even trickier to measure. These are our values. And they are different for everyone.

Some people feel fulfilled when helping others. Others need the opportunity to work independently. Still others become frustrated when their job doesn't allow them to be creative. The key is identifying your values.

Few people find a job that satisfies them completely. Trying to find the perfect job is like trying to find the perfect mate. You need to know where you are willing to compromise and, maybe more importantly, where you are not.

When asked to name their values, many people immediately will say family is one of their most important values. Many people of these same people spend 30 percent to 50 percent or more time traveling for business. And they wonder why they're not happy.

Other clients say money is not important to them Not important at all. But they pine after beautiful designer clothing and are longing for the day they can buy a boat. And not just a little boat, a floating vacation home. Obviously, money is more valuable to them than they may believe.

One enlightening exercise is to make a list of the ten to 20 things you most like to do. Study the list to see if there is a pattern. Does it surprise you? Take a look at how often you do things you enjoy. Do you spend most of your life doing things you don't enjoy?

While you're at it, examine the way you like to do things. Do you like to spend your time playing softball (being with a group) or curled up with a good book (being alone)? Do you prefer the excitement of downhill skiing or the relaxation of a day on the hiking trail? Consider your answers to these questions when you are thinking about a new job or career. Imagine how you'll be spending your days on the job. Will you enjoy it?

Use the following questions as a jumping off point. But be sure to add your own. Remember, you are the most important part of the equation.

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Annette Richmond is a writer, career coach and founder of, The smart woman's online career resource. has the tools you need to manage stress, enhance your image, change careers or start your own business.

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