Values Revisited

As I near the three-year anniversary of my engagement1 to Box, I thought it would be apropos to reflect on some of my values in life & work.

I first created a list of values like this way back in 2011, as a way to assess how things were going in my life in general and determine whether I was adequately satisfying my needs. By making this list, I learned a lot about myself and what makes me happy at work – which is undoubtedly different than what makes others happy!

Why is this important? Well, as I see it, one’s life is inextricably tied to one’s work (see: work-life harmony), and – quite frankly – too many people in this world are not happy with their work. Over half of employees are not engaged in their work, with almost 20% actively disengaged in this oft-cited Gallup poll. This is saddening – employers and employees alike should resist this state of affairs.

One way to address this is preventative – regularly evaluate your own values so that you ensure you remain in a place where you’re actively engaged in your work and, hence, your life.

Note: I want to make it clear that I’m not advocating for your work to become your life. I’m just trying to point out that a majority of your time in life is going to be spent in work, so it behooves you to try to make it something you’re engaged and happy in.

With that, here I’ll share the results of my own sort-of-biennial introspection – a thoroughly prioritized list of values, grouped into broader categories this time around. Here’s what important to me now:

Environment

  1. Life in a diverse, urban environment
  2. Minimal work commute
  3. Flexible working schedule, ability to telecommute
  4. Low cost of living
  5. Network of friends in the company and surrounding area

Career Growth

  1. Vertical growth opportunity
  2. Manager who is invested in me
  3. Opportunities to learn new things
  4. Recognition for my efforts

Team

  1. Collaborative team environment
  2. Smart people to learn from
  3. Shared passion, excitement, and general positivity
  4. Fun, informal team environment

Product

  1. Having an impact on the most people possible
  2. Shipping early and often
  3. Working on a product that is well known
  4. Working on a product that is greatly admired / respected

Responsibility

  1. Trust in me to make the right decisions
  2. Exposure to the public as a representative of the team
  3. Challenging work that stretches me

Compensation

  1. Perks – free food, shuttle services, on-site amenities, toys
  2. Benefits – health care, financial options, vacation time, transit passes
  3. Salary
  4. Stock / options that grow

Company

  1. Minimal bureaucracy / process / red tape
  2. Stability, low risk of termination
  3. Founders and vision
  4. Open office layout

It’s important to note that values shift over time. What was important to me three years ago may not be as important now. In fact, I believe one’s values can fluctuate on a monthly basis – which is why it’s all the more important to do these sorts of exercises regularly.2

This was just my personal list, and I’m sure yours will be different. I’d be curious what values others have in their work/lives that I don’t have, so feel free to leave a comment and share! And by doing so, may we all never fall into a state where we hate our work.

1 Use of the term “engagement” is an inside joke 😛
2 Sometimes it takes a friend to remind you to self-evaluate… I’m fortunate to have several who keep me in check.

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