In order to be happy and fulfilled in your career, you need to understand your core values. What’s most important to you in your life? It ties to your career happiness more than you might think.

According to the book CAREEREALISM: The Smart Approach to a Satisfying Career by J.T. O’Donnell, there are eight core values you must consider when you’re mapping out your next job or career. They are as follows:

Physical Self



Mental Self

Romance/Significant Other

Physical Surroundings


Family & Friends


Now, take a minute to rank these eight areas for your own life. What’s most important to you? This is a helpful exercise because it will allow you to identify a career that allows you to focus on your priorities.

For example, if you ranked your family and friends, fun/recreation, and romance before your career, you’ll probably want to find a job that allows you the flexibility to spend time with those people and do the things you love outside of work.

Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a “right” order for your core values. Remember, everyone has unique goals and priorities in their life. That means, how you rank your core values could be completely different from the person next to you. That’s okay!

For example, some people value their careers more than their hobbies. Others value personal time over their jobs. There’s no wrong answer because everyone is different.

The key is to understand what’s important to YOU so you can find a career situation that will make YOU happy. Success and satisfaction are subjective. Everyone has their own definition for both. You just have to be honest with yourself so you can correctly identify the right opportunities for you.

If you need more help figuring out what kind of career you should pursue, head over to career services at Longwood University and chat with a career coach. Both students and alumni are encouraged to leverage this resource. Check it out!

Ariella Coombs

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