Conversation 5: Your Values & Direction

What Really Matters to You?

What Really Matters to You? – a recording of Julian McNally (2:42 min) 

(What Really Matters to You? by RMIT Counselling and Psychological Services, Six ACT* Conversations, RMIT University is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Next is an exercise in which you can start to identify what those actions and values are.

Exercise 2: Values Inquiry

Before you continue, you should complete the Values Inquiry worksheet. Once you’ve done that, continue.

Now before we move to the next step, we just need to troubleshoot your values a little. This is important because everything that you do in life is based on your values.

If you’ve completed the values inquiry sheet, you’ll know that what I mean when I say value is not the conventional meaning. A value is not what your society, religion, family, community or your mind expects or demands of you – although sometimes it may be the same.

A value won’t necessarily have you seen as a good person. Your values are not your morals or ethics – although being true to your values is inherently ethical. Values are not your goals or your mission in life. A mission, after all, is simply a goal that takes a lifetime to achieve.

A value is your purpose or direction in life.

A useful metaphor for understanding the distinction between a value and a mission or goal is that of travel. You might choose west as a direction to travel, but you’ll never arrive there. From here in Melbourne, you could go to Melton, or Horsham, or Adelaide, or Perth. In all these instances, you would be staying true to the value or direction of West. Those places might be goals or objectives on an endless westward journey. Once you’ve travelled some distance West, you can continue to do so.

Exercise 3: Achievements, Actions and Values

Once you’ve honoured a value by achieving a goal consistent with it, you can still continue to honour that value. So, if you’re having difficulty identifying a value, try looking at your achievements and habits and determine what values underlie them.

You can do this with the Achievements, Actions and Values worksheet.

A value is fundamental. There is nothing beyond or underneath it.

And sometimes that’s a good question to ask: What is the purpose of having that purpose? Or, What is the value of having that value?

When you cannot specify an answer to those questions, you have reached the true value or purpose.

Exercise 4: At Your Funeral – The Party of Your Life

Another way of determining your true values is to imagine your funeral or a significant event in your future when you might be commemorated.
What would you want people to be saying about you once you had lived your life?

To help you answer this question, complete the At Your Funeral – The Party of Your Life worksheet.


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