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Do “values” and “purpose” mean anything for my career?


Someone once stopped me in the street and asked what the “meaning” of my life was.

I didn’t have an answer. I didn’t even really understand the question. There just seemed something very pretentious about the word “meaning,” and since then I’ve discovered a whole family of such pretentious words including “vision,” “values” and “purpose.”


They all seem to aspire to something so other-worldly that they couldn’t possibly relate to me.


We could dismiss them as by-products of corporate-speak, but they COULD convey something useful if we take them off their high horses.


So let’s unpack them and see what they’re REALLY about.


Values, for example, are simply what’s important to you. If watching TV is important to you, then that’s one of your values. And that’s fine.


How about “purpose”? This is simply what you want to do.


I met a woman at a course a couple of years ago on how to better understand the future. She seemed pretty successful and said she was on the course to help her achieve her next big goal. When I asked her what it was, I was expecting something philanthropic, but her actual purpose was “to make another million.”


If your purpose is to make a load of money, that’s fine too.



“Meaning” is the reason behind the purpose. It could quite possibly be defined by your values.


And “vision” is just an idea of where you want to be at some point in the future.


Which is why if you know what’s important to you and what you want to do, then you have direction. And direction gives you control over your future.


A recap:

  • Values = what's important to you

  • Purpose = what you want to do

  • Meaning = why you want to do it

  • Vision = where you want to be

So rather than get hung up on what has now become corporate-speak, simply define what’s important to you.


This sheet gives you some ideas how. It gives you two methods:

  1. Quick and Dirty - This will give you an idea about what your values might be.

  2. Doing it Properly - This will reveal two sets of values, one to for the long-term goal and one for the journey in getting there.

Needless to say Option 2 takes more effort, but is well worth it. As one client told me, "It's like looking in the mirror, but I've never seen myself like this before."


If you need some help looking in the mirror, set up a call with me now. There's nothing to lose - we'll talk about your biggest challenges and start figuring out how to overcome them. If you don't like how the conversation goes, there's no obligation to continue.


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