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Values and Goals Clarification

Values Clarification

SMART GoalsYour values are your ideas about what is most important to you in your life —what you want to live by and live for. They are the silent forces behind many of your actions and decisions. The goal of “values clarification” is for you to become fully conscious of their influence, and to explore and honestly acknowledge what you truly value at this time in your life. You can be more self-directed and effective when you know which values you really choose to keep and live by as an adult, and which ones will get priority over others.

Identify your values first, and then rank your top three or five.


  • Being with people
  • Being loved
  • Being married
  • Having a special partner
  • Having companionship
  • Loving someone
  • Taking care of others
  • Having someone’s help
  • Having a close family
  • Having good friends
  • Being liked
  • Being popular
  • Getting people’s approval
  • Being appreciated
  • Being treated fairly
  • Being admired
  • Being independent
  • Being courageous
  • Having things in control
  • Having self-control
  • Being emotionally stable
  • Having self-acceptance
  • Having pride or dignity
  • Being well-organized
  • Being competent
  • Learning and knowing a lot
  • Achieving highly
  • Being productively busy
  • Having enjoyable work
  • Having an important position
  • Making money
  • Striving for perfection
  • Making a contribution to the world
  • Fighting injustice
  • Living ethically
  • Being a good parent (or child)
  • Being a spiritual person
  • Having a relationship with God
  • Having peace and quiet
  • Making a home
  • Preserving your roots
  • Having financial security
  • Holding on to what you have
  • Being safe physically
  • Being free from pain
  • Not getting taken advantage of
  • Having it easy
  • Being comfortable
  • Avoiding boredom
  • Having fun
  • Enjoying sensual pleasures
  • Looking good
  • Being physically fit
  • Being healthy
  • Having prized possessions
  • Being a creative person
  • Having deep feelings
  • Growing as a person
  • Living fully
  • “Smelling the flowers”
  • Having a purpose

Goals Clarification

OK, so there are your ideas about which values are at the top of your priorities. Where does this take us? Values are fine things to have, but what we are doing in SMART is changing behavior – so what you might like to do is to translate your personal values into your intended changes in behavior.

The next task is to have a look at your goals, expressing them in terms of behavior change. Here’s a worksheet way to set it out.

In the left hand column goes the VALUE that you defined earlier. Your values may be reflected in your life, in which case your goal might be to keep things going along steadily. Or you may feel that your life doesn’t reflect your values too well, in which case you would probably want something different to happen. What you want to happen is a GOAL, and it goes in the next column.

And the third column is what you (and this means you alone) are going to try to do about it which is a BEHAVIOR. Or maybe, in some cases, a specific action.

VALUE GOAL: What do I want to happen? BEHAVIOR: What am I going to do about it?
Having a close family

I want us not to argue over my boozing

I want us to enjoy time together as a family

I want to be able to give my kids reasonable amounts of spending money

I want my family not to feel let down by what I do

Stick to my resolution not to drink

Not drinking will help. Be less bossy as well as less boozy

Tricky … spending less on booze will help

Try to make realistic commitments and keep them

Being competent I want to feel more competent in my work or to mind less if I don’t feel completely competent at all times.

Work out a continuing work skills development program and carry it through.

Learn to accept that I’m fallible by disputing the belief that I have to be marvelous at everything.

Being emotionally stable

I want not to lose my temper at all, or at least far less often. I want to stay cool when provoked! Practice skills of REBT in handling feelings, particularly the ones that sneak up on me


VALUE      GOAL: What do I want to happen? BEHAVIOR: What am I going to do about it?

©Joyce Sichel, from Barnard, M. E. and Wolfe, J. L. (eds) (2000) The REBT Resource Book for Practioners, New York, Albert Ellis Institute. Used here with permission of the Albert Ellis Institute