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Developing career resilience
Developing career resilience

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2 Understanding your values

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Figure 4

A different way to start thinking about resilience is by connecting it with your values. Knowing that you are acting on your values can be a source of strength when things are challenging, so identifying your values can be a useful step towards greater resilience. This is equally relevant for personal and career resilience.

Cresswell et al. (2005) found that affirmations of personal values can reduce the effect of physiological and psychological stress responses. When the eighty-five participants completed either a value-affirmation task or a control task prior to participating in a laboratory stress challenge, those who had high self-resources and had affirmed their personal values reported the least stress.

In the next activity, you’ll identify your core values so you can use them to enhance your resilience whenever you need to.

Activity 3 Visually identifying your values

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes

You’re going to create a values reminder that you can refer back to when necessary. Focus on general values that you consider to be important in your life – they will be equally relevant to your work and career.

Ideally, you should identify between three to five core values that you can easily reflect on. Many more than that, and it becomes much harder to keep them in mind and apply them in your life.

Here is a list of values from a Psychology Today article (Davis, 2018) that you might find useful to start your thinking:

Authenticity • Adventure • Balance • Bravery • Compassion • Challenge • Citizenship • Community • Creativity • Curiosity • Determination • Fairness • Freedom • Friendship • Fun • Generosity • Growth • Honesty • Integrity • Justice • Kindness • Knowledge • Leadership • Learning • Love • Loyalty • Openness • Optimism • Recognition • Respect • Responsibility • Security • Self-respect • Social connection • Spirituality • Stability • Status • Wealth • Wisdom

If you want a longer list, use your preferred search engine to search ‘list of values’ and you’ll find many options.

When you’ve identified your core values, look for visual images (or words if you prefer) to represent them.

Be as creative as you like with this – you can use drawings, photographs, cut things out of magazines, or use text. If you’d rather use technology – you could use a visual ideas board app, such as Pinterest or Corkulous, or even design a PowerPoint slide. The point is to create a visual prompt that you can put on your wall or keep on your desk, to quickly remind you of your values when needed.

If you don’t enjoy visual activities, print out a list of values and circle those that you feel are the most important. If you want to take it a step further, you could describe why each value is important to you or find inspirational quotes that reflect each one.


There are no right or wrong answer with values, you are simply identifying the things that are most important to you. Once you have a visual reference, you can look at it whenever you need to boost your resilience – reminding yourself of the things that are really important to you.

For example, if one of your values is learning or growth, and there are no more opportunities for learning in your current role – reminding yourself of that value could be a catalyst for moving on in your career. Similarly, if one of your values is respect, and you don’t feel you’re working in a respectful environment, you could either take steps to address that – such as discussing it with your colleagues – or consider what type of working environment might suit you better.