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Find More Happiness at Work Using Your Values

Posted by on January 10th, 2023
Posted in Blog, Coaching   

As you plan how you want your 2023 to go, put your values front and center.

So many of us who work for value-driven organizations miss the opportunity to think deeply about our personal values and how those may or may not align with our daily reality. We try to separate our personal lives and needs from our work in the name of professional impact. 

But if the pandemic gave us any gift it was narrowing the distance between the two. We are whole people, and when we bring our whole values-forward selves to work, we’re more effective, not less.

In my life and leadership coaching practice, I have cataloged countless stories of highly successful people who feel less effective than they’d like to be, as if they aren’t giving enough effort to their families, or who feel a distant sense of dissatisfaction with their day-to-day work, even though they’re in their dream job or career. In short, they aren’t as happy as they’d like to be.

In every client’s story, the key to finding both greater happiness AND professional impact has been finding the places they could use their values to make different choices throughout the day.

Employ these three values-forward steps for a happy and successful new year:

1. Name Your Values

The first step in living and working within your values is naming them honestly.

I coached the executive director of a national nonprofit who deeply values time in nature. But she also values being a high-impact leader who is responsive to her staff working across multiple time zones. She frequently prioritized staff-requested meetings over her daily hike.

Through coaching she saw that hiking was not only aligned with her leadership style—it was an integral part of it. When she didn’t prioritize her hike, she felt drained, disheartened, and worried that she wasn’t meeting her staff’s expectations. This realization made it easier for her to hold the time to follow through on her hikes. But she couldn’t make that change until she named how much she valued the hike, and why.

Be honest and say what you really value, what matters most to you, and don’t hold back. Use active verbs to express them, turning your values into self-commands with real power to serve as your guide. Here are mine:

  • Create harmony with my people and surroundings: I stay aligned with people I respect, and inhabit beautiful spaces.
  • Be healthy: I eat healthy foods, avoid the bad ones, exercise in fun ways, and stay spiritually connected.
  • Use my gifts for good: I marshal my talents and experience in service to myself and others.
  • Expect good things: I’m an optimist and create my reality with my positive thoughts, words, and deeds.
  • Don’t quit: I’m tenacious, show up, and do the work.

*I’m sharing my values to inspire you to do this work, but you don’t have to share yours with anyone.

2. Say Yes to Your Values at Every Opportunity

When you align what you do with what you most value you’ll have more balance, happiness, and impact. Life is just better. 

But sadly, the easy way forward is typically the way you’ve always done things. This might mean you keep saying yes to meetings you should decline, starting your day the same way that doesn’t set you up for success or running events the way you always have even though that takes a toll.

Most of my clients start with a belief that they can’t have a lighter load, make any significant difference in their schedule, or change the dynamic of challenging work relationships. All of them uncover, to their surprise and delight, that more is in their control than they realized, leading to a dramatic improvement in their balance, happiness, and impact.

Instead of following the path of least resistance, start saying yes to your values. Commit to one value per week and work actively to live it, especially when it’s hard. The more you do it the easier it gets, and the better you feel.

Ask yourself: What choice can I make at this moment to align with my values? What choice moves me away from my values? What choice do I want to make?

You can set specific goals each week that align with your values, or simply respond to all the opportunities you see to make values-yes choices. Have fun with this!

3. Set Realistic Goals

It may be challenging to make the values-yes move when you first start. Often people try to make too big a change too quickly.

If you value physical fitness and commit to running seven days a week, you may not stick to that right away. And every time you fail to reach a goal your brain makes the next try harder!

Set a baby steps goal you can realistically achieve, like running once or twice a week. You can always go up from there.

If your goal is to meet with ten donors a week in person or via Zoom, but last year you only met with ten a month, start smaller. If your goal is to leave work by 5:00 p.m. every day, but you rarely leave until 7:00, make your goal 5:00 on Tuesdays until you get the hang of it.

When you name your values, actively make values-yes choices, and set realistic goals, you’ll be astonished by the results.

If want to learn more about how to achieve greater impact at work while being more balanced and happy, sign up for our free workshop on February 16: Use Your Values to Recharge and Get Re-Inspired for the Year Ahead.

And if you’d like to explore how coaching can help you, please email me to arrange a complimentary and confidential session.


Jennie Winton is a Founding Partner of Mission Minded, a 25-year marketing veteran sought for her expertise in branding nonprofit organizations, and a one-on-one leadership coach.

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