ACT and Values and Goals


 Q: What’s the difference between a value and a goal?

A: A goal is a signpost, a value is a direction


A goal is not a value, a value is not a goal. It is helpful to know the difference.

When we talk about goals, we are usually talking about things we want to achieve, things that indicate that we have succeeded, signs that we are on the right path.  So we might say that we want to get a degree, become a best-selling writer, get married, have children etc, etc. These are all goals. They have an either or quality to them. We can tick them off our list as we achieve them, or not. A goal is a sign that we are on the right path, but it is not the path.

A value is the path. A value is the direction of travel.

When we talk about values we are talking about demonstrating things that are important to us, showing what purpose is meaningful to us. So we might say that creativity is important to us. Well we don’t have to be a best-selling writer to be creative. We can find many ways in our lives to be creative and we can choose to act in a creative way right now.

Or we might say that having loving relationships is important to us. Maybe we won’t get married, maybe we won’t have children, but we can still have loving relationships in our lives. We can choose to act in a loving way right now.

So a goal is not a value, and a value is not a goal. Goals can be helpful, goals can be motivating, but if we are over-focused on goals our lives can feel pressured and restricted. Values, though will always be our friend. They will infuse our lives with meaning and they will never let us down.

In ACTivate your Life

Product Details

it is suggested that we ask ourselves these two questions about our goals:

  1. What purpose is this goal serving?
  2. What will it enable me to do that is meaningful?

The writers say that hopefully this can clarify the purpose for pursuing a goal because sometimes we can become so focused on achieving goals that we lose sight of the purpose.


  • How good are you at differentiating between a value a goal?
  • Has living a goal fixated life caused problems for you?
  • How has living a value driven life made a difference in your life?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.


The North Star



It helps to differentiate a value from a goal,

For they serve a different function and they play a different role,

So a life that’s goal fixated will have different things in store

To a life that’s value driven, that has values at its core.

It is true that goals for many are the order of the day,

“What today can I achieve?” are the first words we often say,

And the list is unforgiving, for as goal fixators know,

There is always more to do when we let goals dictate the show.

And yes, we get a sense of order and a purpose to pursue,

In the goal fixated life there’s always something we can do,

And it can be most rewarding, as achievement often is,

But what happens when we don’t achieve and end up in a tizz?

For some goals are unobtainable, and failures we’ll perceive

When life slaps us in the face and what we want we don’t receive,

Or the disappointments stacking as another goal we miss,

When we buy into the goal driven life we buy into all this.

Which makes a case for putting values at the core of life instead,

For they’ll never disappoint us, they’ll just help us forge ahead

In directions always meaningful, our very own north star,

For though our goals may come and go our values just stay where they are.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed “VALUES AND GOALS” please pass it on, and do leave your comments.  I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT ……….

I am a member of the

ACT Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Community

If you are interested in ACT you will find lots to interest you there and I recommend that you visit often.

Dr Russ Harris has posted a great animated video there about

Values Vs Goals.

I loved it and it inspired this post.  Take a look.  I am sure you will love it too.

Which leads us to the ……

ACTivation Point!

So ……………………….

Just for today

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT. I am on a journey. I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes







Published by

Corinne Shields

I am a wife, mother, grandmother, erstwhile teacher for thirty plus years, and permanent student. I have long been interested in psychology and spirituality and enjoy writing inspirational poetry. Hence the publication of this blog at ACT Made I play golf badly, piano a little better and I love reading, writing, and all things French. I divide my time between Wales and France and enjoy travelling with my husband, Len and my dog Charlie.

2 thoughts on “ACT and Values and Goals”

  1. This is a fantastic post and I really love the poem. The difference between a goal and a value is something new to me so I shall have to ponder it a while but I kind of ‘get it’! As ever, your blog provides something to think about combined with lovely and meaningful poetry xx


  2. I am so glad you enjoyed the post. I know I found it difficult to make a distinction between a value and a goal when I first started to learn about ACT, but there is a difference. Living a goals driven life feels different from living a value driven life. I think that over-focusing on goals can create a lot of tension and stress, an ever-present fear of failure almost, whereas a value driven life is gentler somehow. Gentler but giving an underlying sense of purpose. That works better for me. xx


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