Align Your Work With Your Core Values

I’m about 20 conversations into my 100 Conversations Project, and the common theme that has come up in every single conversation that I’ve had is that work is the biggest source of stress for people. It got me thinking, “Why is this?"

When I dug deeper, what’s glaringly obvious is that when work is the primary source of stress, it’s usually because it’s misaligned with our purpose; i.e., our core values.

What Happens When We’re Misaligned

Back in 2003, I was working for a mid-sized tech company as a Training Coordinator. My job was exactly as it sounds - to coordinate technical training classes for product users.

Back then training was done in-person, which isn’t very scalable. So my team ventured into the burgeoning world of online learning. While it was exciting, I was worried about my job security - What would this mean for me? What kind of meaningful contribution could I make now?

As my manager rattled off all the new opportunities I’d have to expand my skills, all I could think of was, “Meh.” Though I was passionate about learning, education and training (and still am!), the nature of the work itself didn’t make me feel like I was making a difference. I wasn’t making the world or the lives of the people I worked with better.

(And it wasn’t until that very moment did I realize that improving the quality of life of other people was important to me.)

For a long time, I did nothing about it. I lived in misalignment and had some really unhappy years. So it comes as no surprise that during this period my job really was the single source of stress in my life.

I was grumpy and short-tempered all the time which affected my relationships with the important people in my life. I ate and ran to cope with my emotions.

All that contention, emotional eating and overtraining led to sleepless nights and burnout, poor gut health (IBS, SIBO and Leaky Gut Syndrome) and hormonal imbalances (adrenal fatigue, and hypothyroidism).

Eventually, I reached my breaking point where I finally decided that I was tired of being unhappy. I was sick of feeling tired all the time. And I was tired of feeling so...unwell.

I realized that I had the power to do something about it. I spend years waiting for someone to “fix” my life, but really, I had to do it for myself, no one else could it for me.

So I took a leap of faith, actually many leaps of faith. It was scary, and I had a ton of self-doubt. I had to face my personal insecurities and inner demons, but the light I found at the end of the tunnel was well worth it.

Now I can honestly say that my work is in alignment with my core values, and because of this, I love my work!

How to Align Your Work and Values

You may be thinking, “Well Naomi, that’s nice for you, but how do I do that?” I’ve narrowed the process I took down to four steps.

1 | Awareness

The first step for making any change is awareness. Being aware of your problem and having an awareness of the cause of your problem.

I honestly feel that awareness is the key to health and happiness. Having self-awareness is being honest with yourself and recognizing what’s holding you back. 

When I realized that my core values are freedom, honesty and making people’s lives better, I became fully aware that the work that I was doing in complete misalignment - it’s no wonder that work was so stressful!

2 | Reflection

Once you have awareness, ask yourself the following:

  • How did your situation come to be?
  • What are your core values?
  • Do they align with the work that you do?
  • If they don’t, how can you bring them into alignment?

The best tip I give you for reflection is to look inward. Quiet the noise with regular meditation and make journaling your new best friend.

Write down what your core values are, then do a brain dump of everything that stresses you out and why. See where the gaps are - practicing early morning pages can help with this.

Once you see where the gaps are, brainstorm on how you can bridge the gaps. What things can you do to align your work with your values?

3 | Create An Action Plan

Once you determine how you can bridge the gap, create a plan to make it happen. You have more control over this than you think!

It may mean having tough conversations and making job or lifestyle changes, but it also can just be shifting your mindset, or finding other ways to practice your core values.

4 | Implement Your Plan

Now that you’ve mapped out your plan, take action and make it happen!

What Happens When You Take Action

Earlier, I mentioned how alignment has led to fulfillment in my work.

In my work as a program manager at my corporate job, I’m able to tap into my zone of genius of taking big, audacious initiatives and breaking them down into small achievable tasks for my project teams. Yes, I’m a big organizing and planning nerd, and I’ve come realized that not everyone has this talent.

So my abilities to create a project plan that breaks down a big, hairy, audacious goal into small tasks, allows my team freedom to do the work they enjoy doing. It clears the barriers. And when roadblocks do arise (as they always do), I’m able to ask questions that offer perspective and encourages freedom. At the end of the day, clearing barriers and removing roadblocks makes a difference in the lives of the people on my team. It lessens their stress so they can find fulfillment in the work that they do in their own zone of genius.

What I’ve come to realize that my ability to do this, is a form of coaching that completely aligns with my values. And I can honestly say that I’ve never felt more fulfillment in a corporate job than I do now.

The fulfillment I get from being a Program Manager goes hand-in-hand with my work as a health coach. I’ve been passionate about health, fitness, and wellness for almost 14 years and have always wanted to work in this field. I finally did something about it, went to IIN, then Holistic Nutrition Lab, and now I’m able to use my education, experience, and skills to make a direct difference in the quality of life of my clients. For me, there is nothing more fulfilling than seeing a client’s breakthroughs.

I’m also a consultant for Beautycounter. I’m not one to get involved with specific brands unless I’m passionate, about the company’s purpose.

I struggled with hormonal imbalances from adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism. It’s not fun. But add in SIBO, and it makes my situation even more complicated. So it's important for me to do everything that I can to ease the imbalance.

Beautycounter’s products, along with their mission of education and awareness completely aligns with my values of freedom, honesty and being a difference maker.

You’ll look forward to going to work every day because work doesn’t feel like “work.” You’ll feel inspired, motivated and fulfilled. You’ll be empowered. People will feel your new vibe and notice the change in your energy. Your passion and enthusiasm will overflow and work will no longer being your biggest source of stress, because you love the work that you do.

Once you put your action plan in motion, the best advice I can give you is to surround yourself with like-minded people to keep your trajectory going.

Communities are powerful. Last week I participated in three different communities that left me feeling fired up to continue making forward progress!

First I went to a Beautycounter meeting where I heard Gregg Renfrew (the CEO) speak on why she started Beautycounter.

{She watched “The Inconvenient Truth, ” and it made her aware of the environmental dangers facing our society. It inspired her to create Beautycounter so she could educate the masses on how the beauty industry knowingly uses harmful chemicals in their products that are known to cause cancer, infertility and other dangerous diseases.}

Then I went to a Functional Forum Meetup where I was able to connect with other practitioners in my local community who passionately believe in functional medicine and how it is the future of healthcare.

And lastly, I reconnected with my running community and ran a local race. Just a few years ago my running community was an integral part of my life, but as I stepped back from marathon training, I’d lost touch with it. Reconnecting with this group brought me so much joy and reminded me how much I love running and the people who do it.

Being surrounded by like-minded individuals in each community who care about the same things that I do, refueled my fire, passion, and enthusiasm for the work that I do.

If your work is the biggest source of your stress, then I have two invitations for you:

1 | Join The 100 Conversations Project:

The feedback that I’ve gotten from some participants is that just being able to speak about it has lifted some of the burdens that they carry and it’s even inspired a few to take action about it!

2 | Join the Be FAB Community, my private Facebook group for professionals who are overstressed and struggling with fatigue and burnout. It’s a place that I can provide motivation, guidance, and support on a daily basis.

Powerful things can happen when you align your core values with your work and surround yourself with a like-minded community.


Hi, I'm Naomi

I help smart and savvy women who suffer from chronic stress, unexplained weight gain and burnout, breakthrough their healthy blind spots and relieve symptoms through natural healing with whole foods and by making lifestyle and environmental changes. Why feel tired when you can feel fired up and ready to go every single day?

I love running outdoors, connecting with like-minded people, and exploring the San Francisco Bay Area with my pup, Coco Pop.

Connect with me:  Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Naomi Nakamura

San Francisco Bay Area, California

Hi, I'm Naomi!

I’m a Certified Holistic Health Coach who helps people who suffer from fatigue and digestive distress learn how to eat real food and adopt clean living practices for better health energy, and endurance. Why feel tired when you can feel fired up and ready to go every single day? 

I love running outdoors, connecting with like-minded people, and exploring the San Francisco Bay Area with my pup, Coco Pop.

Connect with me:  Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest