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Achieving Values Alignment: Practical Steps and Common Challenges

Achieving Values Alignment: How can you identify your core values and bring them into alignment with your professional life?

In a previous article, we explored the concept of values alignment - when your core beliefs and principles harmonise with those around you, whether it's your colleagues, leaders, or the organisation itself. We discussed how high values alignment leads to greater fulfilment, cooperation, and commitment at work. Misalignment, on the other hand, can breed conflict, disengagement, and a general sense that something feels "off."


Understanding the importance of value alignment is just the first step. The next crucial question is: How can you identify your core values and bring them into alignment with your professional life? In this article, we dig deeper by providing actionable steps to help you get clear on what matters most and strategies to better embody those priorities. We'll also explore potential roadblocks and how to navigate them.


The Foundation: Identifying Your Core Values

Before you can live and work in alignment with your values, you first need to get crystal clear on what those values are. Our values form the bedrock of our identities and guide how we view the world and make decisions. However, they often operate in the background without us consciously recognising them.

The first step is to bring those deeply held beliefs and principles into focus by engaging in thorough reflection. This self-discovery process takes time and honest self-examination. 


There are several powerful exercises that can help unlock your core values:


  • Self-Reflection: Start with quiet contemplation. Ask yourself, "What do I truly care about? What ideals do I never want to compromise on? What would I stand up for, even if it cost me?" 

  • Life Mapping: Chart key life events - triumphs, failures, turning points. Identify what values guided you in each. Did honesty help you admit a mistake? Did resilience see you through a setback? The values that steer your most defining moments reveal your priorities.

  • Feedback Seeking: Ask trusted colleagues, friends, and family, "What principles do you think guide my actions?" Their outside perspective can often reveal values you embody but haven't articulated yourself.

  • Value Listing: Make a list of times you felt proud and fulfilled versus times you felt guilty or conflicted and identify the values you were honouring or violating in each circumstance.

  • Role Model Reflection: Think back to your biggest role models and identify the values or principles they embody that you admire. Read biographies or their own writings. What values shine through?


If you get stuck during these self-discovery exercises, there are many value assessment tools online that can provide a helpful starting point for identifying your core values. I’ve also provided some common values to consider if you’re stuck for inspiration.


Getting in touch with your core values is a profoundly eye-opening exercise. You may uncover that you've been upholding certain values unconsciously all along. Or you might realise some of your priorities have drifted out of alignment over the years.


Assess Your Current Values Alignment


Now that you've clarified your core values through deep self-reflection, it's time to take an honest look at how aligned your current reality is with those ideals. 

This means assessing your value alignment across multiple dimensions:


  • With Yourself: Are your day-to-day behaviours, routines and decisions congruent with your stated values? Or do you sometimes compromise on what matters most? Misalignment here leads to an integrity gap that breeds guilt and dissatisfaction.

  • With Your Work: Whether it's the company culture, leadership style, policies or day-to-day operations - do they clash with or reinforce your values? Prolonged misalignment makes it difficult to be your authentic self at work.

  • With Key Relationships: How well do the values of your boss, teammates or clients harmonise with yours? Significantly differing values in close professional circles can cause friction and stress.


To gauge your current alignment, journaling can be insightful. Over a week, document experiences that exemplified your values or felt at odds with them. This provides qualitative data.


You can also use quantitative assessments by rating your alignment numerically across different areas of your work life on a scale of 1-10. Identify patterns in the scores.


Be brutally honest during this assessment. Values misalignment is often subconscious until you shine a light on those subtle feelings of dissonance.


Strategies for Better Alignment


Once you understand where gaps exist, you can take steps to realign your reality with your highest values:


  • Boundaries: Get clear on which values are inviolable and which allow some flexibility based on context. Firm boundaries help you respectfully opt out when you're asked to compromise core beliefs.

  • Value Conversation: Open an honest dialogue with the key people in your professional circles about how to honour each other's values better. Finding mutually agreeable adjustments reduces strain.

  • Cultural Additions: In a leadership role, you can directly shape organisational culture by scripting values into policies, celebrations, rewards and recognitions. Reinforce the principles you wish to see embodied.

  • Personal Practices: Explore specific habits and rituals to regularly reconnect with your values. This could include journaling, meditation, volunteering - anything that renews your commitment.

  • Role Transition: If you've exhausted options for better alignment in your current situation, have the courage to change roles, companies or industries to find an environment better matched to who you are.


Potential Roadblocks on the Journey


Even with the best intentions, pursuing values alignment in your professional life can encounter speed bumps. Being aware of these common roadblocks allows you to anticipate and navigate them skilfully.


  • Situational Pressures: Quarterly targets, crisis situations or peer influence can tempt you to compromise values for quick wins. Recognising this tension is the first step in resisting it.

  • Organisational Friction: If your personal values significantly clash with those of your workplace, you'll face ongoing friction. Thoughtfully decide whether to try changing the culture or find better alignment elsewhere.

  • Personal Blind Spots: We all have biases that can distort our view of our own behaviour, which could cloud our judgment about whether we're truly embodying our values day-to-day. Use 360-degree feedback to uncover these blind spots.


Aligning with your values is an ongoing practice, not a one-time task. It requires intentional effort, continuous learning, and the courage to stay true to yourself, especially when it's challenging. The obstacles are many, but by recognising them, you're better equipped to overcome them, growing stronger and more aligned with each challenge.

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