Whether you’re thinking about an entirely new career direction or which jobs to pursue right now, the process is typically stressful. We think about our options and dilemmas repeatedly, from every possible angle, and end up feeling anxious and confused.

(If somehow you’re exempt from this stress raise your hand, I’d like to meet you).

The Power of Values

My counseling clients often find it helpful, both with decision making and to reduce anxiety, to “return to ground,” connecting to personal values and then, only secondly, to desires and interests.

This is critically important: Having work that fits our values is a strong factor in job satisfaction and is recommended by Positive Psychology researchers as supporting health and happiness in our lives.

Here's an “art therapy” bubble chart exercise I use with my clients to help them think through their values and what jobs would be a good fit for them.

It will help make the complexities of thinking about your future a bit more concrete.

Have fun with it! This process should be creative, free-flowing, and serve to inspire you.

The Activity

Step 1: Get Supplied

Grab a few sheets of blank drawing or computer paper, and your favorite pen or colored pencils.

Using colored pencils and pens can encourage you to be even more creative.

Step 2: Consider your Values

Reflect on your values in life (not in a job), and write them inside circles or cloud shapes on the paper as they come to you.

These are the “capital V” values, like helping others or exploring the world, not “I’d sure value a job with a ping pong table.” That can come later.

Be honest with yourself about what values are most meaningful to you or closest to your heart, rather than what you “should” value. This exercise is just for you: be open about what means the most to you.

For example, your bubbles could include some of the following:

  • Adventure
  • Family
  • Learning
  • Generosity
  • Achievement
  • Service to others
  • Wealth
  • Status
  • Connections with a wide range of people
  • Independence
  • Stability
  • Creativity
  • Influence

And so many more.

What values are important in your life?

Step 3: Take an Extra Moment

When you’re done, think for a moment and then add two more that occur to you.

This is a good time to pretend you're at the end of your career, having lived a long and wonderful life already. Looking back, what things were most important to you?

Was it the traveling you got to do?

The flexibility you had to spend time with your loved ones?

The feeling of making a difference?

The way you supported your family financially?

What additional values come to you from this perspective? Add those in your bubbles now.

Take your time to really consider everything that you value.

Step 4: Star!

Now, draw stars by a few values that are most central for you to highlight them. Looking over everything in one place, what values jump out at you?

Remember, this exercise is just for you, so be honest with yourself.

What excites you most? Which bubbles do you keep coming back to?

Now that you've added everything, using stars can help you focus on the most important aspects.

Step 5: Reflect

Reflecting on the whole page, what do you notice about your bubble graph?

What does it say to you about the dilemmas ahead of you at this point in time?

In what ways would you like to live those values in your work life?

Now, what companies come to mind when you consider these values? What types of jobs?

If you don't know what jobs might be a good fit, consider chatting with a professional career coach. They're great at helping turn your values into concrete plans.

✨ Savviest: Mission Control For Your Career ✨
Not sure how to use your values in your job search? A Savviest coach can help provide some perspective and guidance.

Final thoughts

In Eastern-influenced psychology, we talk about doing our best to “set the conditions for happiness” in our lives.

Work that aligns with our values, or in which we can behave according to our values, can be a wonderful thing, but it's not always straightforward to get there. This exercise is perfect for helping set the condition for finding the perfect next job.

Have fun, get creative, be honest with yourself, and find a position that's just perfect for you.

When you're ready to start the job search, there's no better place than Savviest.

Think of it as Mission Control for your career, where you can track your applications, write amazing resumes and cover letters, and look for the perfect job.