Identifying Career Goals: Which Work Values Matter Most?

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The Importance of Work Values in Setting Career Goals

Throughout high school, you’ll have different ideas about careers. It's normal and healthy to change aspirations as you learn more about yourself and the world. In fact, you’re probably going to hold many jobs and evolve your career goals over time.

As you get closer to graduation, start turning ideas into concrete goals. Having clarity about what you want to do long term can help you can decide your next steps. Start by considering your own work values.

What Are Work Values?

Values are your personal principles and beliefs. Work values are how these beliefs connect to your career. Think about what matters most to you. How much do you care about the following?

  • Doing work you’re passionate about
  • Engaging with people who have diverse backgrounds and perspectives
  • Working individually or collaboratively
  • Having a flexible schedule or environment
  • Maintaining work-life balance so you can pursue outside interests or focus on family
  • Getting recognition for your contributions
  • Being paid fairly

What’s missing from this list that matters to you? How would you rank this list? Once you identify which values matter most to you, use them to set goals.

What Is a Career Goal?

Your long-term career goal is where you see your future self. If you haven’t already, head over to BigFuture Career Search to discover more than 900 career options that can help you determine your career goal. You can also learn ways to decide your goals here.

How are work values important to career goals?

Pursuing a career aligned to your values is likely to lead to success and happiness. Once you have an idea of your ideal destination, begin to set short-term career goals to explore your values along the way. For example, if you want to work in a fast-paced environment where you can help people every day, make a good salary, and be respected at work, you might want to be a nurse. If nursing is an appealing long-term career goal, a short-term goal might be to take more high school science courses or volunteer at the local hospital to see what nurses do every day. Both short-term goals can help you learn if being a nurse matches your personal values. They can also help you get into a nursing program, which is another example of a goal in service of your long-term dream.

Will my work values change over time?

It’s normal for values to change as life circumstances change. For example, if you start a family, you may value flexibility more than you did before. Periodically check in on your list of values. Make sure they still match your priorities.

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