Individuals prodding the system

You have very likely asked yourself at some point: How much of my day to day work do I choose to do and how much do I have to do because I am embedded in a system that imposes requirements on me?

The system is the companies we work for, the universities and schools we attend, the estate agency we have a tenancy agreement with, in short all the obligations we subject ourselves to that come from entities run by other people.

Entering into commitments is a natural part of our lives. When we do so we weigh up costs and benefits. Every commitment represents a cost to the individual which they are prepared to pay in order to reap benefits further down the line. Over time we build up a complicated web of commitments and obligations, and a problem arises when we no longer have the feeling we are still in control of our lives.

When our daily energy is spent serving the requirements from such commitments and any space to make independent decisions has disappeared. At that point there are three classes of people:

  • The first group are those who are happy in this state of affairs: people who do not have a problem with spending their entire time fulfilling the obligations that are a result of their past decisions.
  • The second group of people get to a point where they are dissatisfied because there is no time, energy or resources left for them to pursue independent, new ideas. At the same time they see themselves unable to take action and fix the problem for the very same reason.
  • Finally, there is a third group, which we might call the prodders. They are the same as the people in the last group but they stop and reassess, and then prod the system to change. They are prepared to break the cycle of obligations that keeps them in their current state and to change the system to suit them better.

If you are in the first group, fine. If you are in the third group, congratulations. If you are in the second group, break out! It is impossible to completely avoid commitments and the system that they come from benefits us in many cases. But the aspect of time in commitments means that we can get to a point where past decisions have created an interrelated network of obligations from the system that takes away from an individual what makes them individual: The ability to allocate at least part of their time and energy to causes that are independent of any obligations.

No matter how difficult it may seem, such a state must not be taken for granted and continue for too long.

The only way to overcome the dissatisfaction is to stop, re-evaluate and then prod back at the system to reduce the long list of obligations that are taking up your life!

And what is even better: Doing so will not only improve your own quality of life but by changing the system you will likely have a positive impact on other peoples lives too!