This winter I’ve been spending some time considering the difference between the goals we set and the values we admire. As a life long goal setter and resolution maker, I’m accustomed to the rigidity of goals, the frequent concessions to failure and, when a goal is achieved, the empty sense of wondering “what next?”
I had a recent opportunity, however, to immerse myself in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a form of therapy that seeks to increase psychological flexibility through acceptance and mindfulness strategies. The technique does not ask for us to eliminate difficult feelings, nor to simply let go of the negative. Instead, ACT supports our being present for life’s sometimes bumpy ride. With ACT we practice being open to difficulty and in that way learn to accept and to not over-react to situations that are unpleasant or emotionally painful.
In ACT, we work to move toward what provides heart and meaning. While setting finite, achievable goals is useful, having an understanding of what truly matters to us – those things that sing in our soul – requires that we have clarity about our values.
Values are about who we want to be in the world. Values are not about what we want from life but what we can offer. They are not rules but qualities that resonate from a place deep within. Knowing what our values are brings life into focus and empowers us to choose how we behave when we are witnesses to pain, injustice or bullying.
What are your values?
In 2018 what can we do to hold our values as we walk through the world? What choices will we make to honor our values?