Do you want to conquer obstacles, make effective decisions, and create a life on your own terms?
“The Power of Agency”, by Paul Napper and Anthony Rao summarizes the essentials for managing your life by referencing and recapping the best ideas that have been written on the subject over the past few decades.
Many of us spend our lives seeking Agency. Agency is about being active rather than passive and planning effectively for your future. Call it empowerment or taking charge, agency sums up the traits and life skills we often don’t even know we lack.
Many of us feel stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted, and powerless. But rather than identify and build the skills we need to get and stay on track, we latch onto quick-fix strategies for change, such as binge eating, substance misuse and negative self-destructive behavior.
We wish to succeed, feel good, and enjoy our families, friends, and work but too often, we keep ourselves stuck by repeating the same mistakes we’ve made before while hoping for a different outcome or giving up entirely.
The authors of the Power of Agency make the point that, due to the pull of 24/7 technology, our obsession with comparing and competing, sedentary lifestyles, and work overtaking personal time, there are an increasing number of people who have lost their ability to respond to stress.
The result is overwhelming anxiety, eroding our ability to effectively chart our own course.
The book proceeds with laying out seven agency-promoting principles to guide our lives:
Control Stimuli — this is how you can ignore distractions such as constant cell phone scrolling, Netflix or fake news which clouds your judgement.
Associate Selectivity — This is around associating with people who will help you be your best self.
Move — Staying active with exercise and other stimulating social activities can help you be less depressed and lower anxiety and stress. Sometimes doing something simple as just taking a 30 second walk every 30 minutes can make all the difference in the world.
Position Yourself as A Learner —When you can take in multiple opinions and factual sources around a topic, then you will be able to store these opinions in your memory for use on future decisions you need to make.
Manage Your Emotions and Beliefs — Since we were kids, we have been subconsciously taught our core beliefs. This comes from our parents, schooling, political affiliations, religions, and other external groups that we have been surrounded by our entire lives. Even though we may have been brought up to think one way about a certain topic, we need to be able to take a step back, learn all the facts about the situation, and not jump to a conclusion just based off what we may have learned for the first 10–15 years of our lives.
Check Your Intuition —Our intuition allows us to be able to make quick decisions based on the information that is right in front of our eyes. This is great for decisions that don’t have large impacts; however, we need to be able to control our intuition when larger decisions arise and make a more informed decision.
Deliberate, then Act — This is a simple principle. Once you have decided, carry that through.
But what really resonated with me as a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist was the following advice from this book:
- employ patience and persistence to make small changes
- de-clutter your surroundings and minds
- practice mindfulness
- say no more frequently to take care of yourself,
- choose mentally healthy people to be around and learn how to deal effectively with those who aren’t
- recognize and curb your emotional triggers
- pay attention to positive and negative shifts in focus or mood
- stay open to new learning
- and be wary of group think and culture
The authors’ advice is best summed up as encouraging the reader to
Think carefully about where your brain is at all times
Agency is having the feeling that you’re in control of the situation at hand, and of yourself always. The book offers 7 steps for you to regain this sense of control
- Keep a clear head and control the number of stimuli you get
- Associate selectively with people
- Exercise and move
- Always position yourself as a learner no matter where you are
- Keep your emotions in check
- Learn how to read your intuition
- Deliberate before acting
To KEEP A CLEAR HEAD
- Practice meditation
- Don’t multitask
- Filter your sources of information
- Reduce junk information (social media)
- Put away your phone.
- Embrace boredom, and use it as a moment for self-reflection
To ASSOCIATE SELECTIVELY
- Mix around with positive people, and you will mirror them
- Act positively and others will follow suit
- Don’t fall into the herd mentality
- Learn to say No
- Being unpopular is okay
- Break unhealthy relationships
To EXERCISE AND MOVE
- Walk more
- Stand more
- Learn to understand the signals your body is giving you (Hungry? Tired?)
- Go and experience new places
- Make sleep a priority
To KEEP LEARNING
- Learn to embrace failure with grace
- Get feedback from others
- Bounce and voice out your thoughts
- Look from other peoples’ perspective
To CONTROL EMOTIONS
- Watch beliefs from the past. They may not be valid
- Identify emotions with names and words
- Channel your emotions somewhere
To MAKE GOOD DECISIONS
Ask yourself 2 questions for each decision:
- How did I arrive to that decision?
- What other alternatives are there?
Go find your agency and enjoy your life you are living!