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  • Writer's picturemeganwilliamsphd

How to Cultivate a Meaningful Life with Values Clarification and Committed Action

values and committed action

Feeling disconnected from what matters most to you? You're not alone. It can be easy to lose sight of our values amidst the chaotic backdrop of everyday life, leading to a situation in which our daily actions and choices do not align with the core principles and beliefs that we hold dear. This can lead to a sense of inner conflict, dissatisfaction, and a feeling of being disconnected from our authentic selves. When we deviate from our values, we may experience a lack of fulfillment and purpose, contributing to emotional distress and a sense of dissonance in various aspects of life. This blog post provides an overview of values clarification and committed action: a therapeutic strategy for cultivating a meaningful life.

Understanding Values Clarification

What Values ARE

Values are the qualities and principles that give our lives meaning and direction. They represent what truly matters to us on a deep and personal level. Identifying and clarifying one's values is a crucial step in mental health as engaging with our values is what allows us to cultivate a life that feels worth living. Values often encompass various life domains (e.g,. WHAT is important to you), including relationships, work, personal growth, health, community involvement, or any other life domain that feels important to you. Values can also include qualities of action (i.e., HOW you want to show up in the world), such as kindness, loyalty, courage, etc.

What Values ARE NOT

Values are Not Feelings (e.g., “I want to be happy).

Feelings are temporary and fluctuate over the course of our day.  Of course, our values may shift some over the course of our lives (e.g., what you value as an adult may be different from what you valued as a child), but for the most part, our values are consistent over time.

Values are Not “Shoulds”

Values are highly personal and are based solely on what matters to YOU. Values should not be based on what others have told us that we “should” do or what “should” matter to us.

Values are Not Goals

Values are our unique and overarching guideposts for a meaningful life. When we think about HOW we want to live our lives and WHAT is important to us, we’re talking about values. Goals are the specific ways we intend to execute our values. A goal is something we aim for and can check off our to-do list once we’ve accomplished it. But we can never ACHIEVE a value. For example, if my value is kindness, I might set a goal to hold the door open for a stranger. I can achieve the goal that is consistent with my value (i.e., holding the door for a stranger), but I never “achieve” kindness or check it off of a to-do list. Kindness is something that I have to work at everyday.

Values are Not about Getting Rid of Things

The focus of values-based work is on ADDING meaning to our lives by engaging with our values in an intentional and committed way.

Key Aspects of Values Clarification

Intrinsic Motivation

Values are intrinsic sources of motivation. When we connect with our values, we are more likely to be motivated and committed to actions that align with those values.

Clarity and Commitment

We can clarify our values and make committed choices based on those values. This process involves exploring what is truly important and meaningful in our lives.

Consistent Decision-Making

Values serve as a compass for decision-making. When faced with choices or challenges, we can refer to our values to make decisions that align with our long-term goals and aspirations.

Fostering Resilience

Embracing our values provides a foundation for resilience. When faced with setbacks or difficulties, those of us who are anchored in our values are better equipped to navigate challenges with purpose and determination.

Understanding Committed Action

Committed action is the dynamic response to identified values. It involves taking specific, measurable steps towards living in accordance with our values. Committed action is not about achieving perfection but about consistently moving in the direction of one's values, even in the face of discomfort or challenges.

Key Aspects of Committed Action

Goal Setting

Committed action involves setting specific, achievable goals that align with our values. These goals serve as guideposts for the journey toward a meaningful life.

Mindful Awareness

Committed action involves being present in the moment and mindfully engaging in values-consistent activities/behaviors. Mindful awareness allows us to fully experience and engage with our chosen activities/behaviors.

Flexibility and Adaptability

Committed action requires flexibility. When obstacles arise, we can learn to adapt our strategies while staying true to our values.

Ongoing Growth

Committed action is a continuous process of growth and learning. We can refine and adjust our actions based on feedback and evolving insights.


Incorporating values and committed action into daily life can be a transformative journey, fostering resilience, meaning, and purpose. We can choose to move away from the struggle against difficult thoughts and emotions and toward a life guided by values and committed action. By embracing these principles, we can cultivate a rich and fulfilling existence, navigating life's challenges with intention and authenticity.

Author: Dr. Megan Williams, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Megan Williams Psychology, LLC

IG: @meganwilliamspsychology


Looking for a therapist with expertise in the therapeutic application of values clarification and committed action? Call (410) 617-9699 or visit to schedule a free 15-minute consult with Dr. Megan Williams.



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