Keeping Your Values Aligned for Effective Advocacy Work

RAFT Team, July 24, 2023

In any advocacy work, it's crucial to be able to identify your values and live in harmony with them. This is especially true in areas as sensitive as domestic and sexual violence. This blog post will delve into the importance of identifying your stated values and how to keep your values aligned with your actions.

In this article, we'll explore how to align your daily tasks with these core values and how the consequences of misalignment between personal beliefs and professional duties can lead to stress and disruption.

Finally, we'll share proactive steps when you find that your organization's practices don't match up with its declared or true values. 

Identifying Your Values

Your values are like a GPS for your life. They guide your decisions and actions, and help define who you are. To identify your values, ask yourself: What qualities do I admire in others? What am I passionate about? When have I felt fulfilled?

Understanding Personal Values

Personal values can range from integrity to environmental stewardship. No single "correct" set of values exists; what's important is that they're genuine to you. VIA Character Strengths Survey and Gallup each have a strengths-based assessment that can help you analyze your values. Lean in to the ones that resonate with you.

The Role of Core Values

Core values are those fundamental beliefs that remain constant throughout our lives. They're like a compass that helps us stay true to ourselves, even in challenging circumstances.

Evolving Values Over Time

While core values tend to remain stable, other personal beliefs may evolve based on new experiences or insights. That's why you should revisit a value exploration exercise from time to time to ensure your values still align with your choices.

Aligning Your Work with Your Values

Your values are deeply ingrained beliefs that guide your decisions and behaviors, reflecting who you are at your core. When your job reflects who you are, it is more likely to bring satisfaction and fulfillment. 

Mismatching job and individual values can cause distress, frustration, or exhaustion. This steady friction of competing values can wear you down. No one wants to show up to a job that promises these negative results.

The Importance of Value Alignment in the Workplace

In an ideal world, everyone would work in a role that matches their personal values. However, financial constraints or limited opportunities within certain industries can make this difficult. It might be difficult to find a great fit.

Don't settle for less. Ensure alignment between your job and values by:

  • Evaluating the company culture: Does it promote respect and growth? Is there a plan to strengthen it?
  • Analyzing the job description: Are tasks aligned with your beliefs?
  • Talking to employees: Get insights about their experiences working for the company.

Finding Balance Between Work & Personal Values

If some aspects of your work don't align with every single one of your personal values, remember balance is key. Appreciate the parts that match up well.

Your professional journey will have ups and downs, but understanding how closely aligned your work is with your core principles will give you valuable insight into any potential changes needed for a fulfilling career path.

Stress & Disruption that Comes from Misalignment

When you experience a misalignment between your work and values, you’ll feel a great deal of distress, both professionally and personally. A mismatch between what you do and your core values can cause tension, distress, and disruption to both personal and professional life. It can suck all the pleasure out of your life.

The Impact on Mental Health

Performing a job that contradicts your core beliefs can create an internal conflict, leading to high levels of anxiety. This constant struggle can also contribute to mental health issues like depression or burnout. 

Decreased Job Satisfaction & Performance

Misaligned values can significantly decrease your job satisfaction. You'll likely find yourself less motivated to perform tasks that go against what you believe in. This stress can also weaken your immune system, destroy your ability to concentrate, and undermine your ability to problem solve. All of these can lead to lower job performance and more sick days.

Influence on Relationships

This dissonance between work and personal values often spills over into relationships too - whether they're professional or personal. There's a huge emotional toll when you must live through the tension of competing values. Your capacity to deal with difficulties or disagreements will be much lower, and instead of being able to give a little more when needed in a relationship, you’re more likely to come up empty on empathy, compassion, and understanding.

Taking Care Of Yourself Amidst The Chaos

Self-care practices during these challenging times becomes crucially important. Regular exercise, balanced nutrition, sufficient sleep, gratitude and mindfulness all play a vital role in managing stress effectively. We offer helpful strategies for coping with workplace-induced tension.

Only when you understand the implications of working against your own value system can you take necessary steps towards realignment. But the outcome? A healthier you in the workplace and a happier life.

Taking Action When Values Don't Match

If you feel like your work doesn't align with your core values, don't just sit and suffer - take action. Decreased job satisfaction and burnout aren’t a trifling matter, so it's crucial to address each issue. The more aligned you are at work, the more enjoyable your job becomes, and the more you, as a whole person, can grow.

Acknowledge the Misalignment

First things first: admit that there's a problem. It may be hard to accept that your individual ideals and your organization's values don't correspond, but it is a necessary beginning step towards progress.

Communicate Your Concerns

Talk to your supervisor about how you're feeling. They might not even realize there's an issue, and may be able to offer solutions or resources to help. Open communication is an invaluable tool for working through any concern in your relationships.

Evaluate Your Options

If talking doesn't help, consider other options, like finding a new job or pursuing further education. There are plenty of resources to help you explore careers that align with your values. Sometimes it just takes a shift to a new organization, not an entire career change.

Create Boundaries

If leaving isn't an option, try setting boundaries to manage stress levels. Say no to tasks that go against your beliefs, or limit your overtime hours. Take a little time to decompress at the end of your shift so it’s easier to leave work at work, and set expectations like  not answering emails on the weekend.

Prioritize Self-Care

You’ll likely experience a transition, even if you’re just changing your approach to your current job. Change can bring stress, even if the change is good. (Here are some tips to help you manage the stress that comes with change.) During this period of transition, prioritize self-care. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Lean into your support network. And if you're dealing with compassion fatigue, resources like RAFT can help.

Remember: aligning your professional life with your personal values isn't always easy, but it's worth striving for.

FAQs in Relation to Values Aligned In Your Life

What are aligned values?

Aligned values are principles and standards that match between two entities, leading to harmony and satisfaction.

Why is it important to align values?

Aligning your values increases personal fulfillment, job satisfaction, productivity, and reduces stress.

How do you show alignment with values?

  • Make decisions based on your core principles.
  • Treat others with respect and dignity.
  • Promote transparency and honesty at work.

Do values have to align in a relationship?

Alignment of values matters for mutual understanding, conflict resolution, and long-term happiness in relationships.

It's important to note that while aligned values are crucial, it's also important to respect differences in:

  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Personal beliefs or opinions outside of the topic context.

Aligning your values with your work is crucial for domestic and sexual violence advocates to ensure authenticity and meaning. Reflection on what matters most to you can ensure consistency in your actions. Misalignment can cause stress and disruption, so take action by adjusting your approach or seeking support from others who share your values aligned vision.