When you’re a virgin, all you can talk about is your v-card – when you’re going to lose it, which of your friends lost it first, what it was like when you lost it, who you lost it to, etc. But there’s one v-card, we should be talking about more frequently and throughout the duration of our lives, way beyond a two-minute romp – our values card.
While the word “values” is thrown around as often as an ignorant Donald Trump tweet, people rarely take time to define them for themselves and reflect on what they mean to them and how they shift throughout our lives. When we’re young and developing, the values that are instilled in us are reflective of the values of our parents, guardians or close family, as they are the ones monitoring our behaviour, correcting it, and teaching us important life lessons centered on values such as honesty and compassion. However, once we hit puberty, our values usually evolve, as we begin to consider the values that our close friends hold. During this time, our values are either reinforced, or we adopt new ones to match those of our peers.
From there, we go through another values transformation typically when we hit our 20s. During this time, we are learning who we are as human beings and developing our critical thinking skills. It is now when we put in some critical thought as to whether the values our parents, family and friends helped mould for us are in line with who we are. If not, we notice a shift. We may begin cutting those people out of our life, raising our voices more frequently to disagree, or simply blocking them on Facebook because we can’t tolerate reading our uncle’s misogynist views anymore.
But once these life stages have come and gone, our values become a distant thought until we’re faced with challenging circumstances. Rather than let our values rear their head, during a make-or-break moment, we should try to be more mindful every day of how our behaviour, words and thoughts are aligning with our values – essentially letting our values lead the way and guide us through our lives.
One place where our society does a good job of value checking is when it comes to the workplace. However, we could stand to take it a few steps further.
Initially, when we job hunt we research the values and work of an organization prior to applying to see if they align with ours. For instance, an environmentalist will likely not apply for a job where the company is negatively impacting our planet and completely disregarding any efforts to try and rectify their actions. This values-check stage is obvious and we do it without giving much thought.
The next career values check usually comes during the interview stage, where we ask questions to learn more about the organization’s culture. One particular hot topic for Millennials is work/life balance, with most Millennials willing to take a pay cut in order to receive better work/life balance echoing values of family, wellness and relationships. If this sounds like you, you’re usually keen to gain a sense of what the organization’s culture does to support this - Is it flex days? Are there work from home options? Are the work hours negotiable? Once we learn a bit more about the culture, we’re able to perform another values check and understand where we fit.
But once we’re in a job, doing a values check doesn’t come as often as it should, and here’s where we need to push it further.
How do we do this?
We need to take a hard look at our leaders and our colleagues and ask ourselves, what do they value? And better yet, do their values align with mine?
It’s easy to clock in and clock out, cash your paycheque and dream of the weekend – that takes no effort. But applying critical thought to the workplace does, which is why we often shy away from having those mental evaluations. Because we all know, if we allow our thoughts to take us there and we find out what’s underneath the surface is not what we expected, we know a discomfort is going to arise that is going to be hard to ignore. In turn, making it harder to cash the cheque, more difficult to clock in and out, and the weekend dreaming begins at 9:02 a.m. on a Monday, as opposed to end of day on a Wednesday.
But life is short and what we value matters.
And sometimes that means walking away from a prestigious job, an upcoming promotion, a massive raise, or a combination of the three, because it’s not worth sacrificing your values.
Because listening to your male colleagues talk about your female colleagues’ physiques more than their intelligence is intolerable. Or having a leader that doesn’t show up when your team is drowning is painful. Or having a boss who pays no sympathy and lacks empathy during a loved one’s passing is heartbreaking.
Our time is a limited resource that you can never get more of, so you shouldn’t spend 40 plus hours a week working for or with people who don’t share the same values as you.
And when you find a workplace with the triple threat trifecta of its work values, cultural values and leaders’ and colleagues’ values aligning, it is pure magic.
And the rewards for your soul and your sanity are truly priceless.