How to find the real value in your work

Have you ever had a job where you had to strive hard for goals you didn’t really believe in? Soul destroying wasn’t it? Nothing sucks the life out of your work like taking on huge amounts of stress, or giving up precious personal time, to meet objectives that deep down, you don’t give two hoots about. Thankfully, when it comes to launching and growing your own business, you get to set the rules. You get to decide what matters to you and how you’re going to operate.

I believe your business can become a vehicle for unveiling your very best self. But for that to happen, you have to get really clear on what matters to you – and commit to bringing those core values into your business – and your writing – every single day.

So how do you find your core values?

I consider your core values to be one of the foundations of creating compelling website copy. Here’s an exercise I share with my clients:

Take a moment to reflect on your career and work journey, and identify specific situations when: 1. You felt most proud of your work 2. You felt disappointed 3. You were “in flow” or excited about what you were doing 4. You pulled out all the stops to get something done For each situation consider – 1. What happened and why did this event matter? 2. How did this influence my journey to starting my own business? 3. What values were at play in this situation? With a little reflection, you’ll see that these experiences can reveal a lot about what is truly important to you in life and work. Perhaps it’s integrity? Prestige? Honesty?
Generosity? Playfulness? Respect?

Try each one for size, and see how it feels. Is this how you want to show up in life and business?

See if you can get down to a list of no more than five core values. If you’re stuck for ideas, check out this list of 400 values and see which ones resonate with you. In some cases the differences are subtle, so you might need to weigh one against another, to figure out which ones are the right fit for you.

Do you prize freedom or security? Creativity or structure? Passion or commitment – or both?

Once you’ve got your list, spend some time journaling or brainstorming ideas to bring more of each value into your business. Are there products you could create or people you could collaborate with, to experience more of that value in your everyday work? The more your work is aligned with your values, the richer and more fulfilling it will be.

Your values can also be your compass. Over the next week, as you come to make decisions about your business, your website, or the next piece of work, take a moment to check in with your core values. Ask yourself “Does this decision align with my core values?” If it doesn’t, consider whether you could make a different choice.

Of course, we all need to pay the bills and if you’re still finding your feet, for a while you may have to continue to do work that isn’t fully in alignment. That’s okay. Just be aware of it and if it’s important to you, continue taking baby steps towards a working life where you get to be fully yourself every single day.

Here are some of my core values:  inspiration, connection, openness and empowerment. I’d love to hear yours – go ahead and share them in the comments below.

If you liked this exercise, then make sure you sign up for my ‘Write to the Heart of Your Message’ workbook here. 12 Essential Questions to Refine Your Core Message, so you can write for your business with clarity, focus and passion.

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Christine Sheehy will help you refine your core message, find your authentic voice and show up boldly online, so you can grow your tribe of loyal followers AND your business. She teaches women entrepreneurs how to consistently create engaging content and stand out in a noisy online world, through journalling challenges, messaging coaching, copywriting and intimate writing retreats. Originally from New Zealand, Christine currently writes, dreams (and persistently tries and fails to give up coffee, baguette and cheese) from an alpine village in the south of France.

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