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Core Values Exercises

Exploring Your Values To Guide Your Career Change Plan




What is the point of doing core values exercises? How does this help you with your career change?

Well this is something that really gets to the heart of what matters to you in life. What do you really want to achieve? Not just at work, but in your life as a whole? If that sounds a bit grand, don't be put off. Core values exercises are very personal. These are the moments when you explore what is important to you – not to other people, society, the world!

It is possible that you have never really stopped to consider this. You are quite likely to be unaware of your values because you have never thought about it much. But when you are feeling unfulfilled in your work or life, it is often a sign that what you are doing does not match up with your core values.

So take time with the core values exercises to consciously assess what really matters to you. Identifying your values will make it much easier for you to work out how you need to adjust what you are doing in your life and work.



If you like making lists



So what is really important to you? What are the things that make you feel you are really doing what you were put on this earth to do? Which activities leave you feeling fulfilled and satisfied?

What is it about them that makes them so special? It is usually the fact that a core value is being met – something like challenge, fun, contribution or order. They will be different for each of us.

Take some time to reflect on your core values and list them on a sheet of paper. If you are really stuck to think what these values might be, take a look at the list of values I have created as a prompt.

Initially you may find it easier if you take a brainstorming approach and generate quite a long list.


Once you have made a list of your core values, you need to take four more steps.

  1. Firstly, go over the list being much more selective and narrow it down to your top five or six. You might find it helpful at this point to create 2 separate lists – one for work values and one for life values, though there is often an overlap between the two.
  2. Then take each value and spend a bit of time summarising what it means to you personally and why it matters. So if you have chosen creativity, write down what being creative means to you. Does it mean actually making your own work or is it perhaps about being able to come up with new and interesting ideas and approaches to problems at home and in the workplace? Write your definition alongside each value.
  3. Then the next step is to prioritise them. You can do this by asking yourself ‘if I could only have one thing from my life and work, would it be this?’ This helps you decide what really matters to you.
  4. Finally ask yourself how far your life and work is allowing you to honour these values. Rate each one on a scale of 1 – 10 to indicate the extent that these core values are present in your life and work. Where the ratings are low, it gives you a focus for exploring new career ideas that will enable you to live these values more fully.


Remember that some of your values will probably change with time. So if you find that what was important to you when you started your career is less significant now, that's OK. But be prepared to make an adjustment in your life to allow for these changes.

And then just check with yourself...

"How will I feel if I get to my retirement and realise that I have spent my whole career going in the wrong direction?"




If you like using your imagination



If you prefer a less structured approach, try these core values exercises to help you tap into what matters to you not just in work, but in the wider context of your life..

Who inspires you?

- If you could meet up with any famous character from history or a favourite from literature, who would it be?

- What is it about this person that inspires you?

- What would you like to ask them?

- What characteristics of theirs would you like to adopt for yourself?

- What does this tell you about yourself?

Your message to the world

- If you were given a 15 minute slot on prime time TV to promote a particular message, what would it be?

- What message would you want to share with the world?

- What does this say about what really matters to you?

The rocking chair exercise

- Imagine you are very old (you decide your age) and you are sitting relaxing in your rocking chair at home. You are reflecting on your life and thinking about how you have achieved all that you wanted in your work and your life.

- What would you like to be looking back on?

- What are the highlights that you enjoy reliving?

- Whose lives have you touched?

- What difference have you made?

- What are you proud of?


Thinking about these questions can help you home in on what really matters to you. Consider what the main themes are that emerge for you. What does this mean about your core values?


These core values exercises are perhaps the most important self awareness exercises for you to do. They really tap into what you could call your underlying life purpose. Do you want to get to the end of your life and be regretting what you might have done?

Write down the results of your core values exercises in your Career Change Project File. Keep what you have discovered very firmly in mind as you explore new career ideas.



Why not continue exploring what makes you tick to help you with your Career Change Project? You can look at...

Your Skills - Your Interests - Your Personality - Your Achievements




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