Hey, all women and womxn! I hope your day has started off well and if it’s been bumpy, I hope that it’ll smooth itself out as time goes on.
Today’s post started with a topic in mind, which we’ll get to in a second, but it morphed in a direction I didn’t expect, which is pretty cool. First, though, we can start with a confession from this side of the internet: I still struggle with times of, “How am I going to pull this off…?” mixed with a dose of, “Where is this going to take me?” Notice the feeling of being not in control of my schtuff.
So, when I sat at the computer today I was thinking about agency. I already mentioned it briefly in this post before—the still relevant one about lacking sleep due to worries and doubts. What’s interesting is that I usually thought of agency and choice as similar things or first cousins. Though did you know that they are technically different? We’ll dive into how they are, from my informal analysis, and unpack it from there. And, yes, knowing the difference may matter in how we do our work.
Agency and Choice Defined
To give some background, here’s a piece from ThoughtCo about agency and social structures, from a sociological perspective. It sums up our self-directed actions, as individuals and a collective, and is applicable to today’s realities. To add to this, let’s use Merriam-Webster’s classification of agency as, “the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power,” plus “a person or thing through which power is exerted or an end is achieved…”
Now, why does this matter? Because when we consider our plethora of experiences in our daily lives, from challenging to fulfilling, one of our foundations is this agency from which we can make choices. I’d like to think that our agency is flexible or can grow, if we aren’t entirely rigid in who we are or have been. From this place, this capacity as it was described, is 100% present and choices can come from this well of experience and knowledge.
When we check out the definition of choice, here’s also what Merriam-Webster explains… It’s “the opportunity or power to choose between two or more possibilities, the opportunity or power to make a decision.” As I read this, it’s a combination of action as well as reflecting, pondering, pivoting, and more. If you scroll down to see the adjective version of choice it’s also described as being, “selected with care.”
To sum this up, when putting agency and choice together, I believe we all have personal power within us to utilize our agency and to select choices with care or thoughtfulness. Now, to be transparent, there have been systems set up so one’s agency or a people’s agency is limited or the parameters create situations where choice is limited. Hence, the need for collective change and betterment. But I believe we have the capacity—great word—to expand ourselves from our personal, intuitive power. And from our expansion comes the work we are meant to do and can do.
And Here Comes Intuition
If you searched for intuition on FSW you’d probably see quite a few mentionings of it. That’s because it is a component of who we are as creatures and beings; and instinct, if you will, helps us navigate our roles in this life.
In the work that we do—regardless of how or for whom—we tap into our intuition differently. And, admittedly, when we’re swimming around in our heads, overstressed, overworked, and more, we don’t do our best tapping. (Raising my hand, too, friends) There also seems to be a difference between knee-jerk reactions and reactions “from the gut,” you know? How do you notice the difference between the two in yourself?
When thinking of these elements, of how we navigate this world and the work we do, I’m now picturing them like a garden bed. Yeah, stick with me here…
Intuition is that depth that we stand on, like the very Earth itself. It’s complex in what makes it—experts and laypeople are still trying to figure it out—but it’s like soil, full of life forms and processes that make it what it is.
The topsoil, which we can think of as agency, can be worked with, conditioned, moved perhaps. And this is where our proverbial seeds are planted, nurtured, and take root. We need this topsoil—our agency—for things to grow more successfully.
Finally, our choices (and experiences related to them) are a whole bunch of flowers and veggies that grew from this topsoil. Some are a wee bit ugly, some sustain us in the dark or cold times; some are simply beautiful and others feed fellow beings. Either way, at the end of the day, all three work in tandem for change. I’d like to think that the same could be said for us.
Where and How We Lead Ourselves is a Combination of All Three + Strategy
Now that we’ve unpacked these core elements, I’m going to reorder them like in the example above. All three of these—intuition, agency, and choice—are pivotal in how we show up and how we walk forward. So, how do we become strategic about our steps?
I won’t take credit for this phrasing and I’m impressed by it. When reflecting on agency, choice, and how intuition fits into these, I stumbled on a lot of language-heavy and jargon-filled research articles. And I also stumbled on this er, more simple piece, from UC Berkeley.
As you read along you’ll find this phrase, “strategic intuition.” The reason why I love it so much is, one, it resonates because it’s been a personal practice over the years but I just didn’t know how or have words for it. Two, it’s a nice connecting piece between “regular ol’ intuition,” and mindful forward-thinking or preparation.
Sometimes we, and I, can get stuck in waiting for signs or synchronicities and not living per se…except when I struggle with patience or listening for such signs. On the other end of the spectrum, I go all hog wild and feel like a whirlwind after stress and angst come my way that I didn’t know how to handle from my core. The point is, without going all in the head, there may be this middle-ground approach using strategic intuition.
Please, No More Rat Race
We could discuss overanalyzing and overcompensating here, but as these authors put it, strategic intuition is both checking in with our inner knowing and stepping forward from it. We hear a lot about “just take action” in our culture(s), don’t quit, or my own favorite, filling unconscious voids with work and busyness… But by being intentional and seeing how the solution comes up naturally, we could find that in-between place that isn’t passivity and isn’t a rat race either.
Now, I’ll be thinking about this further but I hope you’ve found it helpful. Please chime in any time, because I enjoy dialogue and sharing of ideas. All-in-all, the work that we’ve done in the past and are committed to now, can only grow from here by tapping into our brilliance and essence. We all have our strengths and compass within that wants to take us in new directions. So, less rat race and more intentionality? Sign me up.
If you’re looking for more direct updates on the FSW world, check out the FSW Circle. Want more independent research? Hit up the FSW Quiz, and if you have any questions or comments, leave them below or contact me 1:1 this way. Have a beautiful week ahead!