Living Intentionally: 3 Steps to Gaining Agency

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Are you getting all you want? Are you achieving all of your goals? Are you living a fully intentional life?

If you are, I salute you. I can’t make the same claim. I do aspire to live more intentionally, though — I am an aspiring intentionalist.

To live a more intentional life, I constantly strive to gain greater agency, the quality of living intentionally. In doing that, it helps to take the following 3 steps:

1. Evaluating reality clearly, to 
 2. Make effective decisions, that 
 3. Achieve our short and long-term goals.

Evaluating reality well involves gaining a thorough and accurate understanding of the situation and the full extent of our options within it. Four factors obstruct our ability on this front, including:

Social prescriptions about appropriate ways of perceiving reality; 
 • Internalized preconceptions based on our previous experiences; 
 • Thinking errors that our brain makes due to faulty wiring; 
 • Finally, an emotional reluctance to face the truth of reality when that requires changing our minds and updating our beliefs based on new information.

Learning about and watching out for these challenges in a systematic manner improves our decision-making. Gaining agency in this area involves studying and practicing research-based strategies for evaluating and making decisions, and for enacting these decisions into life in an intentional manner.

In the moment, doing the latter involves having an intentional response to situations, as opposed to relying on autopilot reflexes, in order to accomplish our immediate goals. In the long term, agency involves intentionally planning one’s time and activities so that one can accomplish one’s aims in the future. You can gain agency in both the short and the long term by learning about and implementing intentional approaches to refining and achieving your goals.

As you can imagine, these things are easy to say, but hard to do. It’s very helpful to get support along the way, through learning about strategies oriented toward this purpose. However, above all, it takes your own commitment to the goal of gaining greater agency over your life and living intentionally.

• What personal experiences did you have that illustrate the benefits of gaining agency and living intentionally? 
 What strategies have you found to be most helpful in these areas? 
 • What specific steps can you take to implement the strategies described here into your life?

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Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is an author, speaker, consultant, coach, scholar, and social entrepreneur specializing in science-based strategies for effective decision-making, goal achievement, emotional and social intelligence, meaning and purpose, and altruism — for more information or to hire him, see his website, GlebTsipursky.com.

He runs a nonprofit that helps people use science-based strategies to make effective decisions and reach their goals, so as to build an altruistic and flourishing world, Intentional Insights. He also serves as a tenure-track professor at Ohio State in the History of Behavioral Science and the Decision Sciences Collaborative. A best-selling author, he wrote Find Your Purpose Using Science among other books, and regular contributes to prominent venues, such as Time, The Conversation, Salon, The Huffington Post, and elsewhere. He appears regularly on network TV, such as affiliates of ABC and Fox, radio stations such as NPR and Sunny 95, and elsewhere.

Consider signing up to the Intentional Insights newsletter; volunteering; donating; buying merchandise. Get in touch with him at gleb[at]intentionalinsights[dot]org.

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