Welcome back to our blog – let us continue our current clarification of the Integrative Life Planning / Pattern (ILP) concept, which we started last time. In the current post, we will spend a brief moment considering what role sense of agency plays in the context of life planning.
Before considering the application of the concept to ILP, let us have a look at how sense of agency is defined. One opinion is that the concept refers to “your ability to take action, be effective, influence your own life, and to assume responsibility for your own behaviour” – the sense of agency refers to the feeling of being in control and being able to determine and influence your own thinking and actions. Another internet source summarises it as “the sense one has of being the owner of one's actions and decisions – the language of agency has the sound of intention and of initiative”.
As soon as one starts digging a bit deeper, the notion of being able to control one’s behaviour and actions is seen to be challenged – sometimes from a philosophical and sometimes from a practical or realistic point of view.
From the ILP perspective, Hansen refers to the link, which has been indicated to exist between sense of agency and psychological health. Although different cultures may have differing opinions on whether sense of agency is in fact tenable, and if so, what shape and form it may take, the Western world views this sense of being in control of one’s own behaviour as a core concept – especially in terms of rendering assistance to individual or corporate clients.
Since life is not always predictable and we are not always able to take control of all situations – even though we may be excellent planners – Hansen brings some balance to the discussion by mentioning the concept of so-called non-events in our lives. Non-events refer to events that simply do not happen, even though we may have done all the conceptualisation and planning humanly possible – examples include not being promoted, not completing a course, not getting a job, or anything else for which we plan and which does not come to fruition.
To conclude, while a sense of agency is associated with mental health, we need to realise that planning does not always imply that the desired outcome will be achieved; a more fluid and dynamic approach is required, such as contained within the ILP model. In the following blog posts I will continue addressing more of the conceptual issues underpinning the ILP model – I look forward to seeing you here again and welcome all and any feedback or comment!