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  • Cindy Lee

What actually matters to you?

[This post is part of a series on Navigating Your Career Transition With Integrity, which is opposite from your typical "backwards" approaches to job searching.]

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? ~ Matthew 16:26

As we discussed last time, if you can’t clearly identify or articulate your standards and values, you also can’t align with them or act in ways that are in integrity with them.


WORSE YET, you can easily get off track, compromise, or be swayed into things that are urgent or matter to others, regardless of whether they matter to you.


That’s why this is so important to clarify your values. Even if you’re not living to “gain the world,” you could still be “forfeiting your soul” if you’re not careful or intentional.


Let’s assume you have the purest of intentions and simply want to do good in this world. SO many great values exist, but the way you do good in the world is different from how your fellow do-gooder does it.


AN EXAMPLE: “doing good” differently


So far ALL of my clients have shared the desire to “do good” somehow. I pulled a sample of 10 people with similar demographics and area of service to keep the sample as homogenous as possible – 10 women who all choose to help an organization that supports women and children who have been rescued from sex trafficking.

  • One does so because she wants to actively help improve their situation.

  • Another because she wants to pay-it-forward to steward well the abundance she has had in her own life.

  • A third one feels giving hope is the most precious gift she could give to anybody.

  • Yet another does it because she desires them to know their worth beyond their circumstances.

Within the 10, there actually were no duplicates. So even though on the surface they all seem to have generous hearts and a shared desire to help those in a specific kind of need, each woman does it in a way that is unique to her.


EXERCISE: identifying YOUR values


Last week we began to dig deeper into your thoughts to uncover what truly matters to you. I provided some questions to help you reflect through things that you hold most dear. What you came up with is probably not new to you, and yet they are likely also not typically at the front of your mind.


Here are the questions again:

  • If you learned that you only have one year left to live, what would you spend your time doing? Why?

  • If you had unlimited finances, and you’ve already had your fill of expensive toys and activities, what would you do? Why is doing that meaningful for you?

  • If you knew you couldn’t fail, what kind of endeavor(s) would you pursue? Why, what’s the impact?

  • Think about someone you admire or want to model your life after. What is it about this person that inspires you? What is a characteristic or something s/he has done to have such an impact on you?

Now, let’s take some time to sift through your responses and gain some clarity on what matters most to YOU.

  1. Write down some highlights from each one, why each experience was so important to you Eg, A) Focus on my health so I am strong and reliable for my family, can enjoy nature, and experience new adventures. B) Start my own business so I can create something I can be proud of that makes people’s lives better, and not regret never trying.

  2. List some key words and phrases that capture your responses. Some examples: learn, create, improve, connect, experience, worth, encourage… Eg, A) Strength, trustworthy, creation, experience, sense of freedom. B) Create, improve, experience, learn, sense of freedom.

  3. NOTE: Many people tend to choose words like “family,” but I’d encourage you to dig deeper. Like in the example up above, you likely have a deeper reason why which is different than the next person’s (eg, build, comfort, love, safety)

  4. Are there some common threads that run through your answers? Look for words/phrases that are mentioned multiple times. Eg, create/creation, experience, freedom.

  5. See what truly resonates and condense your list to the 3-5 words/phrases that you most like and appreciate about yourself or what you “need” most in life. Eg, create, experience, be free.

I’ll be referring to these as your core values as we continue.


If these words don’t sound amazing or knock you off your feet, that’s a good thing. Many people find that they are not surprised by this list and feel a bit disappointed. But don’t be – that means you’re already aware of what truly matters to you, and in the best case you’ve already been living your life in a way that is aligned.


What did you identify as your core values? Were you surprised?


This is ONE aspect of who you are at the core. We’ll continue building on this in the coming weeks to paint a clearer picture of who you are and how you are uniquely created and purposed.

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