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  • Writer's pictureDr. Elena Duong


Updated: Mar 10, 2023

Are you feeling lost? During the pandemic, many are rethinking their lives and are wondering if they are living their lives as they have envisioned for themselves. In reflecting on this, some decided to change jobs or move into another state while others are content with where they are currently in life.

What Are Values?

Values are what is important to you as you live your life or what gives your life meaning. What one person values will likely be different for another person. We often adopt values from our environment, including family, relationships, society, and more. There is no right or wrong way to prioritize values. Values can change over time as people grow/change. You also might have different values in different parts of your life, such as work, family, relationships, etc. For example, you may value vulnerability in your relationships but not at work.

Values are different from goals. You can make goals according to your values. For instance, if you value family, your goal might be to make more time to spend with your family.

Why Are Values Important?

Values can give your life direction or ground you in reality. Sometimes, people refer to values as a compass to provide guidance in their life and to help with decision-making. Once you know and understand your values, it likely will give you more clarity on where to place your attention or how to prioritize certain areas of your life.

In addition, values are a key component in Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT). Within this type of therapy, there is a belief that when a person’s behaviors do not match up with their values, it often results in emotional distress. When values and actions are in alignment, things tend to go smoothly or with less emotional distress.

How to Start Learning About Your Values

The following are some suggestions on reflecting on your values:

  • Set 15-30 minutes or more aside to think about what is important to you

  • Create a list of at least 5-10 values

    • You can have more, but it is helpful to narrow them down

    • Write down why those values are on your list

  • Prioritize them or rank your list starting from most to least important to you

    • How do you feel about that ranking in your current life?

    • If you are not living by these values, what changes can you make to live by these values?

This may be a difficult exercise especially if you have never sat down and reflected on your values. Most do not make the connection that they may be unhappy, because they are living according to someone else’s values, such as their family’s or society’s.

If you want therapeutic support on your values journey, feel free to contact us through our site.


“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” by Viktor E. Frankl

Stay tuned. The next topic is "Career Changes."

Written by Elena Duong, Psy.D.

Edited by Susanna La, Ph.D.

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