Increasing commitment to values-based goals and actions

In our ACT at work protocol (Flaxman et al. 2013), we use a number of strategies that encourage participants to generate concrete goals and action plans that are based upon the values that they have identified. For example, after every session in our ACT training, participants are invited to choose three relatively small value-guided actions that they would be willing to perform over the next week. Our participants are encouraged to engage in these actions mindfully— that is, by noticing what happens before, during, and after the action, and also by noticing any thoughts and feelings that arise and have the potential to function as “internal barriers” to the pursuit of these actions. We also ask if they will commit to achieving four values-consistent goals between the second and third sessions, and we distribute diaries and rating forms that are designed to encourage participants to self-monitor their progress toward achieving those goals. These materials also help participants more generally to monitor their values- based behavior on a weekly basis. Such goal-identification, commitment making, and careful monitoring in themselves can promote the defusion, perspective taking, and acceptance that encourage mindfulness. We also clearly show how the mindfulness techniques that they are learning will serve them well in moving through the difficult psychological content that they will experience when taking action to achieve their life-enhancing goals.

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