Committed Action

“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.” – Henry David Thoreau



Jill and Jane are constantly faced with the challenge of upholding their coaches rules and vision for the program as the captains of their team. Jill and Jane are both major contributors to the team and have been for the past few years. One of the major challenges coach posed to them both prior to the season was to assist him in identifying team values, which include integrity, honesty, hard work and effort, full engagement, and giving back to the community. Jill and Jane have been tasked with helping coach establish these values as the core of the team culture moving into the future.


Recently, Jill’s and Jane’s younger teammates were caught breaking team rules by another older player, who told Jill and Jane of the breach. Jill and Jane are scheduled to meet with their coach and the leadership group of the team later in the week and need to determine if they want to inform coach of this breach. Jill and Jane meet with the leadership group prior to meeting with coach to discuss their options.


Jill shares her perspective: she’d rather address the issue with the younger teammates on her own, avoid any conflict, and keep moving the team forward. She feels they’ve been playing well and would hate to derail that with something so minor.


Jane shares her perspective: as much as she wants to keep winning and keep the positive energy going, she knows that if she doesn’t uphold the values of the team when they would interfere with good things, then the values must not be that important. She shares that she believes the team should endure the consequences of the broken rules together, support one another through the process of coach responding to the breach, and refocus on team values.


As they meet with coach, both share their perspective. At the end of the meeting, coach decides how he’s going to address the breach with the team: he demotes Jill from captain.




Although certainly the more difficult of the two choices from a social standpoint, Jane’s choice to behave in accordance with team values has been linked to many positive outcomes that most people seek in their life: greater fulfillment, decreased distress, and greater quality of life (Trompetter et al., 2013). There’s also a link between acting on values and greater psychological health and physical health and well-being (Cresswell et al., 2015). That all sounds great… how do we get there?

Often times, people sacrifice long-term satisfaction in the name of short-term comfort. But, to have the team you want, or the performance you want, it’s not enough to simply identify your values and hope for the best. You need to put your values into action, even when that means short-term discomfort is likely to show up and be a roadblock.


Then there is one step further – there is a reason this action is called committed action. It’s repeated, ongoing commitment to engaging in behavior consistent with your values, even in the face of adversity. What the research suggests is that over time, this type of behavior is much more likely to bring you what you want AND likely to lead to reduced distress in the long-term. The commitment is to enduring short-term adversity for long-term flourishing.


Dial Up, Dial Back

We need to learn which committed action to take in which scenario. The reality is that most of the time, identifying which value to act on can be just as challenging as the action itself, and that can lead to inertia. The key is identifying which value to dial into, and how that then translates to action. If you find yourself consistently emphasizing one value over the other, without regard to how that impacts those around you, it may be time to dial that committed action back, examine your other values, and see if dialing it back can be connected to one of those values.


Dial it up is a bit more straightforward. If you find yourself consistently choosing short-term comfort and avoidance over forging your character, you need to dial up the committed action. This is a good opportunity to practice some of the other skills we’ve worked on (namely, acceptance, self-compassion, and bring it.)


Score Yourself


Reflect on the information about committed action above.  

Describe 1-2 situations where you took committed action in your performance.  

When is it easier to act on your values?  

Describe a situation where it is harder to act on your values?


Engaged Living Scale



  1. Now that you’ve identified situations where it is harder to act on your values, see if you can identify which of your values are easiest or hardest to act on.
  2. Set 3 small goals connected to your hardest values, and see if you can commit to engaging in action related to those goals.



Share your goals with a coach or teammate, and tell them when you plan to act on those goals in service of your values. Ask them to check in with you at least every other day regarding your progress, and challenge them to do something similar.




Trompetter, H. R., ten Klooster, P. M., Schreurs, K. M. G., Fledderus, M., Westerhof, G. J., & Bohlmeijer, E. T. (2013). Measuring values and committed action with the Engaged Living Scale (ELS): psychometric evaluation in a nonclinical and chronic pain sample. Psychological Assessment, 25(4), 1235–1246. doi: 10.1037/a0033813.

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