Finding your values with Patch Callahan

In this episode of “This Complex Life,” I interview Patch Callahan, a clinical psychologist, to explore the concept of values and their importance in therapy, specifically in the context of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Patch provides insights into the difference between values and goals, as well as practical tips on defining and living your values.

The conversation in this episode delves into the challenges of discovering and living by one’s values, including how to handle discomfort, make decisions, and find psychological flexibility. Patch Callahan’s insights provide a valuable guide for those looking to explore and learn about themselves.

Key Takeaways:

      • Understanding Values vs. Goals: Patch distinguishes between values and goals. Values are the underlying principles that guide our behaviour and choices, while goals are specific achievements or targets. Values provide the “why” behind our actions, giving them deeper meaning. Values are the deeply held principles and beliefs that guide our actions, behaviours, and decisions. They represent what is meaningful and important to us and serve as a compass for living an authentic and fulfilling life.
      • Importance of Values: Identifying and living according to our values can lead to a more purposeful and fulfilling life. It helps us make choices aligned with our true desires, fostering authenticity and satisfaction.

Defining Your Values:

      • Start by considering various life domains, such as family, relationships, work, health, and leisure.
      • Reflect on what is genuinely important to you within each domain, drilling down to specific values.
      • Aim to narrow down your values to a manageable handful, around 5 or 6, that resonate deeply with you and activate a sense of purpose.

Challenges in Identifying Values:

Some people may struggle to discern their values. It’s essential to explore, experiment, and learn through trial and error, seeking professional guidance if needed.


Three Tips to Define Your Values:

      • Reflect on Life Domains: Consider different aspects of your life, such as family, relationships, work, health, and leisure, and identify what matters most to you within each domain.
      • Drill Down to Specific Values: Delve deeper within each domain to identify specific values that resonate with you. For example, within the family domain, you might value connection, vulnerability, or reliability.
      • Narrow Down to a Handful: Aim to narrow down your values to around 5 or 6 that feel deeply meaningful and guide your actions. These values should be tangible and connect with your desired future.

Importance of Defining Your Values: Identifying your values is crucial because they provide a clear sense of purpose and direction in life. Living according to your values fosters authenticity, helps you make choices aligned with your true desires, and leads to a more fulfilling and meaningful life. It allows you to navigate challenges and make decisions that resonate with your core beliefs and principles.



Our goals might be something we can achieve and check off a list, but we might continue to have those life directions of our values, even after we’ve achieved the goals. Our capacity to move towards our goals makes more sense and is easier to do when we know what we care about.”

Patch Callahan

About your guest Patch Callahan

Patch has been working as a clinical psychologist since 2010 across a range of public, private, youth, and adult mental health and has experience with individual, group and couples therapy. He has trained in a range of therapies, however, his passion, both personally and professionally, is within the foundations of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy “ACT”.

Connect with Patch

Further reading or resources

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