There are different definitions of the word value, depending on whether or not the word is being used as a noun or as a verb. When used as a noun (especially in terms of job searching, professional, and personal development) the definition of value then can be considered: “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment on what is important in life”.

Everyone can share certain values and then also have completely different values as well. This is one important aspect of both personal and professional development that one has to think on throughout their lives and careers. Truthfully, this is one area that I’ve always been weak on (namely because I’ve always had a hard time trying to figure out what I want to do with my degree and what direction my career should go).

So over the past year and half, I’ve read several different personal/professional development books and worked through some e-courses, and they all had one exercise in common: picking out words from a list that resonated with you in terms of both your personal life and your professional life. Some told you to pick words that resonated with both (or to have a short list that encompassed both aspects), others had you do the activity twice: once for personal and then again for professional.

So while I’m including three of my value lists (one done from a book, one from an e-course, and the other from another program). They are in picture format (love using word cloud to make pictures out of words). There are words that show up multiple times, and now it is time for me to merge these lists into one list, and hopefully then get a “core list” and an “additional” value list made from these three.

So the first list of value words came from an exercise from the book: “Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking” by SJ Scott and Barrie Davenport. This was one of the first personal development books that I read last year after being laid off. It has wonderful insights and exercises for one to do, and I’m slowly starting to stop worrying about things that I can’t control and learning how to re-frame my negative thoughts into more positive ones.

This exercise had you make a list of values for both your personal and professional lifestyles (going with first your personal and then your professional). I will admit that the list for professional was shorter than the list for personal (but this is again due to me still trying to figure out the type of professional lifestyle that I would like to have).

Word cloud of my personal and professional values from the book

My second list of core values come from my transition plan that I’ve been developing and modifying via of my enrollment and involvement in the Cheeky Scientist Association (which is an company/association that helps people with PhDs (and Masters) degrees transition into industry positions). This list is smaller than the other two, because I was trying to limit the list to no more than ten or twelve values (and one way I did this was by finding values that also could be considered combinations of other values together). This shorter list of values include:

Vitality (combination of health & fitness),

Synergy (combination of teamwork & collaboration),








Intuition, and finally


The final list comes from an e-course that I took on the topic of career development/searching for the right job. The actual title of the course is: Deciding your career path—even if you have no idea how! on I found this to be a little bit of a refresher course, though it did offer one new trick on trying to match your skills with the skills that the job posting has listed (but that is a topic for another post). This short refresher (at least for me) asked that you make a list of the values that resonated with you, and then rank them to find your top five to seven. Below is my unranked list of values that I listed (and I have them covering again both personal and professional):

So as you can see—I have basically one very large list of values (both personal and professional), now I have to either rank them or choose the ones that resonate the most with me to focus on during this current career transition.

When you use a program that groups or changes the size of the word depending on the number of times you have it listed, you can get a cool picture.

I’ve also realized that there are several values added to the image that aren’t found on the list (or I’ve added in the word again); but that I also left off hard work from my value list. This isn’t to say that I don’t value

One thing I thought of doing was grouping some together under an overarching theme, and I think that the current theme could be continuous improvement (which can mean numerous things in terms of both personal and professional development). So while I’m sure that I could continue to add to the above lists in terms of things that resonate with me, the ones that I’m going to focus on for the next few years include:

            Learning, Creativity, Variety, Vitality, Synergy, Honesty, happiness, adventure, and economic security

            Learning can encompass knowledge and education

            Vitality can encompass fitness, health, and nutrition

            Synergy can encompass collaboration and teamwork

So I think that I need to be looking for companies that have a sense of community, and also programs to help employees grow as professionals. In addition if I stick with research, going a different direction from what I’ve been doing will be another way to ensure that I’m continuing to learn and gain knowledge.

So to summarize, I’m going to be focusing on aspects/values that will allow me to continue to grow and learn (something that I pushed aside for awhile after finishing graduate school), and become a better me. Those values again are:

Now to start looking for companies that will allow me to focus on both these values and also have the type of professional lifestyle that I probably would enjoy. That lifestyle I think is a mixture of both lab work and data analysis (I don’t think I really want to be sitting behind a desk all the time; and I do miss being at the bench and actually working on “my” research). In addition, while there may be some long days (and/or weekends) of work, I am duly compensated for that time. There is also an company culture that emphasizes the balance of both work and having a life away from the business (i.e. you don’t have to worry about checking emails after hours, on the weekends, or on holidays). So I am slowly starting make the progress needed for my transition from academia to industry.