Valued Action

Valued action is a concept in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT). Values refer to the things that matter to you; the way of being that you associate with a meaningful and satisfying life. Emotional pain can be a signal that you are not living in accordance with your values. Be clear as to what your values are and consider using your values as a compass to direct your behaviour.


When people are asked what they consider important in life they generally come up with a list that may include the following domains: health, intimate relationship, family, friends, leisure, education / personal development, work and spirituality. Some of these, but perhaps not all, may be important to you personally. Think about what is important to you, and write down how you want things to be in each of these domains.

1. Health: How do you want your health to be? How do you see yourself maintaining your health? What activities do you need to engage in to achieve your optimum level of health?

2. Intimate relationship: What would you like this relationship to look like, and how would you like to be in this relationship?

3. Family: How do you want these relationships to be? Describe the sort of person you would like to be in these relationships?

4. Friends: Describe what being a “good friend” means to you. What kind of friendships would you like to have?

5. Leisure: What kind of things would you like to do in your free time? Think of the things that you find interesting and enjoyable.

6. Education / personal growth and development: What kind of further education or training do you want to do? What does the concept “personal growth” mean to you?

7. Work/ career: What type of work would you like to do? What would your ideal working situation look like? What kind of employee would you like to be?

8. Spirituality: Describe the role of spirituality in your life. This may not necessarily mean some organised religion. Spirituality may also mean the time you take for yourself to find a sense of peace, quite and perspective on life.

Now go back over each of the 8 items and think about how important each is to you personally. Give each a rating out of 10 (you may give several items the same rating).

Finally, rate yourself out of 10 on each item, in terms of how consistently you currently live your life with your values.


A person may consider their health to be very important, yet they may also be eating an unhealthy diet, smoking, drinking too much, having too many late nights etc. So they might rate health as 10 in terms of importance, but rate themselves as a 5 in terms of how consistent their current life is with their values of healthy living.

The person in the example table below considered her health to be very important, yet was also eating an unhealthy diet and having too many late nights. So she rated health as 10 in terms of importance, but rated herself as a 6 in terms of how consistent her current life is with her values of healthy living.


The person in the example table decided she would try to make changes in her health, intimate relationship and leisure.

When you try this exercise for youself, what does this tell you about what changes you may wish to make?