Live Well, ACT Now!

- Adjusting to Cancer
- Committing to Your Values
- Taking Action NOW


5. How do I live a life that matters?


Values and Goals

Values are the guides to our lives. Goals are the concrete actions we take to put our values into play. Goals are achievable.   You can think of values as the horizon you walk toward.  You can always walk toward it, but you can never completely reach it.  Goals are like landmarks laid out between you and the horizon.  By walking from landmark to landmark, you can make sure you’re on course for the horizon.

For example, you might value "being creative." You could have a concrete goal such as "painting a self-portrait."   Or, you might value being a caring, supportive parent who is really ‘there’ for your kids.  In this case, a goal might involve regularly attending your child’s sporting events on the weekend, or engaging in activities he/she enjoys at least twice a week.

Values and Willingness

Fear and desire are two sides of the same coin. If you really desire something and value it, you will often be afraid of losing it.

When you go to do something you value, you will often experience distress, anxiety, anger, self-doubt, etc. So each time you decide to act, you are faced with a question:

The willingness question : Are you willing to have your unpleasant feelings and thoughts show up, in order to do what you value?

Your answer can only be "yes" or "no". This is because willingness has an all-or-nothing quality.

Willingness is like jumping. You can jump off of lots of things. However, there is a Zen saying that goes, "you can not jump a canyon in two steps."

Canyon 1

That is, once you jump, you are in space, and gravity does what it does.

The only thing you can choose is the size of the jump. You can take a large jump (e.g., a large risk). Or you can take a small jump.

Canyon 2

So to be willing is like taking a jump. it is all or nothing.

The following exercise will give you some experience in choosing values and willingness

The willingness and commitment worksheet


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1. What can I do about my distressing thoughts and feelings? 2. What if I struggle and struggle and seem to get nowhere?3. I don't want to be pushed around by my thoughts and feelings anymore.
What can I do?
4. I sometimes have trouble accepting myself for who I am. What can I do?5. How do I live a life that matters?6. How do I stay committed to my values even during the difficult times?