The difference between living by goals vs. values
At Change it psychology, we are currently loving a relatively new model of therapy called ACT – acceptance and commitment therapy. The best and most accessible books on ACT come from Russ Harris, ACT is a relative to CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) and focuses on how we can take effective skilful action in our lives even when unpleasant thoughts and feelings are around. One important part of this therapy is focusing on and identifying your values. The sorts of questions we might ask you are:
What is important to you?
What do you want your life to be about?
What sort of person do you want to be?
What sort of relationships do you want to build?
What would you channel your time and energy into doing if you weren’t struggling with your feelings or avoiding situations?
Values are leading principles that can guide us and motivate us as we move through life. When you go through life guided by your values, you can gain a sense of vitality, but you also experience that life can be rich and meaningful even when bad things happen. Values are about connecting ourselves with a sense of purpose and meaning.
Ask yourself: in which domain (home, work, leisure, relationships) am I out of touch with my values? Which domain is most important to work on right now?
The happiness literature shows that being value driven, that is, having your focus on how you want to behave in your life, provides motivation and energy. Knowing what your values are provides a big picture of view of what you want your life to be about.
Goals are an important of life, but values provide the answer to the question “why” and “what am I doing here?”