Being yourself exercise is a very useful tool to apply in all instances involving an organisational transition or personal transition that feels at conflict or difficult. Being yourself exercise can be conceptualised as an updating and realigning long term goals – i.e. career prospects or managing change - by revalidating or assessing values with an application to new developments/ situations.

In order to illustrate such an exercise various difficulties in managing transitions or search for a new employment position are examined all involving self-introspective questions around values and standards.

All questions could be formulated around one acronym VALIDATE exemplified by questions on self-reported attitude to work and contrasted with STANDARDS in reference to the company/organisation/agency you are currently working for or seek employment with.

VALIDATE- for the purpose of this exercise, the term is used as a confirmation or endorsement for a desired change i.e. a specific work role, but it can be applied more generally to various other transitional roles and or life events.

V = Values – as common sense this may be, making time for a brief reflection on work-related personal values could be seen as a good starting point to address some anxieties around a new job or re/assessing your current position/role in your career; Values are different for everybody and they can change over time and that potential change can be identified and signposted also as a tool to reduce anxiety and or gain clarity during a period of organisational change or an active choice to change employment. The two most apparent value domains work related are work environment and education/training and or personal growth. For instance, some relevant questions that come up in such occurrences could be meanings attached to a specific work role, working as part of a team including a sense of belonging and type of skills aimed to for further development. Values are different from set goals and could be seen as a form of reasoning behind specific set goals. Questions around type of skills and personal qualities desired to affirm or re/affirm as part of a role with than corresponding set goals of seeking a specific training and or building stronger work relationships. A further example could be made in reference to domains that are not necessarily apparent at first analysis. For instance, values related to parenting and role modelling, type of relationships that are aimed to be developed and or considered at specific moments in life, what type of community would like to live in and contribute towards and questions around well-being and self-care - are all part of interrelated values domains with a clear relation to work choices and organisational changes involving re/creating and reflecting over specific set goals at different moments in time. Values related to parenting and role modelling involve decisions around flexible part time schedule and or location, career progression tasks etc. Contribution to community and values around civic duties and environmental views could give way to seeking specific roles within a community setting and or adjacent to a current work role i.e. volunteering and or pro bono work, engagement and investment in community programmes, promoting and or funding specific causes etc.

A = Assessing - this step would involve a self-assessment of personal values and recording personal ideal work value domains identified in previous step; What value domains are identified as being presently significant and observation of any, if any, changes in variation of value domains. For instance, if in a previous work role work domain value did not account for values attached to family and social life, or there is currently a need for an acute sense of reconsidering location, commute etc. There is also possible that changes are more subtle, such as opportunities for involvement in specific projects that would account for environmental held beliefs and or a need for re/training. At different stages in career development an identification of newly added values could be recognised such as desire to share knowledge and or develop a different branch to your existing role such as teaching, mentoring or perhaps acquiring specialist expert knowledge in your specific work field.

L = Listing – this stage is concerned with creating a priority list of all your ideal value domains work related;

I = Identifying - aspects of your current work that correspond to your ideal value domains, desired aspects that are not momentarily present and aspects that are in contrast and or at conflict. The three column table would involve a brief assessment of questions related to standards of your company/organisation/agency you are currently working for or seeking future employment with. This step is crucial for more than one reason as it could also potentially identify sources of stress or anxiety around your current role coupled with specific recognised value domains conflicts. For instance, a rotational change to working in a community setting and outreach support as part of your retraining can be experienced as a significant change from being based in an office and working part of a team for same role. This situation can be felt as highly stressful with an outreach position perceived as a considerable reduction on network support, sense of belonging within a team, availability of different training opportunities and self-growth etc. All such aspects are related to domain values of work environment, collegial relationships, opportunities for training, membership to a team and isolation. Positive aspects could be greater flexibility, efficacy, and development of your profession in specialised or specialist knowledge etc. However, if your domain values are at conflict with existing tasks and retraining job description specification, such a conflict can create high stress and several other difficulties that can vary in degrees of severity. Another example could involve a positive progression in your job role with proceeding to a hierarchical higher position and when assessing all new developments it is recognised that specific aspects in value domain are lost or in contrast. Identifying all such sources of conflict it is paramount to being able to progress to next step of delimiting and revising all potential changes that could be made.

D = Delimiting or Demarcating all potential conflictual changes by contrasting your current role and desired outcome - this step only refers to demarcating value domains and not set goals. For instance, working as a part of a team and not as an independent or seeking a career progression where you would attend to your value of wanting to share your experience and knowledge, hence actively seeking opportunities for mentoring, collaborations across various networks and extending current support network. A decision for career progression can be conceptualised as bringing in or offering an opportunity for such adjustments. Seemingly such choices could be made within an existing role that had become to be experienced as non-challenging. A change could be introduced in seeking a variety of challenges aligned to your adhered value domains.

A= Aligning If a specific situation arises such as a restructuring of your work role, change in management and or organisational loss, a rapid change in team composition, redeployment, variation of significant aspects of your work role such as retraining within your current role, or embarking on a career progression and self-growth, all such situations are potentially perceived or “felt” as negative (loss) or positive (opportunity); independently of such attached meanings of positive and negative valence, all such changes could involve heightened levels of anxiety and high level of stress. By focussing on specific value domains assessed in step two (Assessing), creating a list of all desired value domains (Listing), grouping all such identified domain values in three categories as currently existent, non-existent and at conflict or potential conflict (Identifying), followed by an exercise concerned with resolution of existing conflicts and evaluating all desired outcomes (Delimiting or Demarcating) it is going to offer you a clear picture as to why, where and how on your current situation with an opportunity for Aligning or reaffirming your domain values that are fundamentally essential to your current situation and changes involved. This task would require creating a list of domain values and sought changes offering a clear understanding on remaining options. Considering previous example, an application at this stage would involve a final decision on whether or not working in a community setting without an office based position it is your best option or perhaps team work and developing working relationships are primary values for consideration. Could be that an adjustment to existing role needs deep consideration in terms of accessible potentialities and opportunities for re/training? Equally this step is going to bring closer understandings to setting goals/tasks and revisiting existing goals (long term, medium term and short term), which is the next step.

T= Tasks – setting new goals aligned to your recognised primary work values and sought changes - this step is entirely reserved to designing an action plan where you are accounting for your previous steps introspections and evaluations. Taking previous example, it would suggest a reconsideration of your job role where developing work relationships and working as part of a team with face to face interactions are identified as essential to your job satisfaction and outreach community work identified as considerably lacking on such aspects, than the task would be to seek employment opportunities that are accounting for such changes or at minimum an examination of existent opportunities within current role i.e. work related networking and or accessing peer support.

E= Empowered/ Enabled This final step involves a revision of your previous steps and devised action plan with a reinforcement and recognition of meanings attached to value based system. A sense of enablement and empowerment gained through such an introspection could be identified and if not at minimum a clarification of your work related Expectations.

Taking another previous example, if a career progression is next step but anxieties around such a task are present, this exercise would have offered you a clear signposting to existing conflict and informing set tasks ahead. For instance, if departmental restructuring is at play where your work role is no longer available and there is availability for progression within a new role, potential considerations would had involved all stages of analysis and identification of where and why there is a conflict i.e. new role, albeit a clear career advancement would also involve less time in practice and or fewer opportunities for gaining specialist knowledge and developing projects based on main interests and passions.

There is needless to say that work related values and value domains are very specific to individuals and this exercise can only bring clarification when all such values are reflected upon and an action plan is devised. Using the acronym VALIDATE makes such a process structured, evaluative, self-reflective and more importantly its practice can be reduced to simply devising action plans when conflicts within existing roles are already somehow acknowledged but a revision of changes need to take place within set times - by only conducting from stage D (Delimiting/Demarcating) to and including stage E (Enabled) so DATE as a new acronym and a set specific time for change.