How to deal with uncertainty in your career

We all have to deal with adversity or uncertainty in our work at some stage in our careers. You might be concerned about job security. Maybe your biggest issue is how you are going to maintain a good work-life balance now that you've started a family. Perhaps your biggest concern right now is actually finding a job that is fulfilling and brings out the real you.


Adversity often heightens awareness of our values. Values are also an important, yet often neglected aspect of career decision making. If you can identify what’s important to you when it comes to work, you are far more likely to be content in your career. Values aren't tangible things like money or property. It's more about what these tangible things might give you a sense of. For some, it’s security or creativity. For others, it might be status, affiliation or being able to influence others.

I always start off career coaching sessions by doing an exercise that helps individuals to identify what's important to them when it comes to work. More often than not, the reason for people's dissatisfaction in work is because their job does not match their core values. 

Career values

Here are the main career-related values. Have a think about which ones are most important to you:

  • power/influence
  • challenge
  • creativity
  • meaning/purpose
  • affiliation
  • security
  • material rewards
  • lifestyle
  • fun
  • independence
  • expertise
  • status

It's not easy to pick out core values from a list as if you're at a pick'n'mix counter at your local cinema. Values need to be regularly tested and challenged. Sometimes what we think is important to us turns out to be not so important after all when it's challenged. For example, material rewards may have been important to you when you started out in your career, but perhaps now that you have a toddler at home, you have the conflicting values of 'material rewards' with a 'work-life balance' which allows you to get home and read your toddler a bedtime story. Both are important especially when finances are stretched, but which one is more important to you now? It takes a brave person to truly stick to their values.

So how can you work out your core values?

Using a similar example to the one above, think about the last time you had to make a really tough decision. At times like this, it often means that your values are in conflict. When you made your decision, what value do you feel was victorious? Perhaps you can also think about your last really bad day at work. What was so bad about it? What personal values do you think were contravened that day? Do the same for your last really good day (you might need a great memory for this one!). What did that day suggest is important to you? 

It takes courage to live by our values. When it comes to work, it's easy to get attracted by high salary, status or perks. These are not bad things in themselves, but if they are not really important to you, you will not be content and it will be very difficult to pull yourself away from such a trap.

If there's anything positive we can glean from adversity, it might be that it gives us a great awareness of what is truly important to us. The question is, will you be brave enough to live by these values rather than compromising because of what we feel we 'should' be doing?

If you would like some help with your career options you could try speaking to a qualified life coach. Making changes in life can be difficult, but working with a career coaching expert could help you navigate through important choices to enable lasting change. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Worthing, West Sussex, BN13
Written by Mark Anderson, Award Winning Career Coach
Worthing, West Sussex, BN13

Mark Anderson is an award-winning career coach who works with adults and young people to help them identify their purpose and decide on the right career path for them.

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