Values are talked about a lot in regards to mental health and wellness, however, values are not always defined the same way. As one of the core components of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, values are how we want to act on an ongoing basis, and this lets us walk down a valued path.
This might sound complicated and that’s ok! It can be hard to identify what truly matters to you – what you value. We live in a society that prioritizes goals and outcomes. However, values are not goals or outcomes. Values are what you want to be about – what you want, in 10 years, to be able to look back and your life to reflect.
Some value domains include family relationships, intimate relationships (spouse, partner, significant other), friendship and social relationships, career and employment, education and personal growth/development, recreation and leisure, spirituality, and health and physical well-being.
It can be easy to identify goals for these value domains. For example, “get married” and “go to grad school” could fall into the value domains of intimate relationships and education. These are things that may happen when walking your valued path, but these are not values. A value for intimate relationships could be “being a kind partner”, while a value for education could be “being active in the field I care about”. Values give you direction.
Values do not end – they are forever informing your life and the choices you make. Check-in with yourself about what is meaningful to you. What fills you up and makes you happy or content? Make sure your values are for you and not for others – this is YOUR life!