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Intentional Sustainable Growth: Autonomy (Part 2)

This blog is part 2 of a larger post on the ingredients for cultivating and practicing intentional, sustainable growth: 

  • Autonomy: Freedom to be who you are
  • Purpose: Utilizing your autonomy in service of your WHY
  • Context: Acknowledgement of needing to adjust your behaviors given environmental specificity 
  • Mindset: Attitudinal willingness to adapt
  • Adaptability: Ability to adapt given what best fits the specifics of context. 

In this post, I am going to discuss the concept of autonomy more deeply. 

Autonomy refers to the idea that people need to feel willingly engaged in their behaviors and feel a sense of ownership over their actions. In essence, people need to feel like they have a say in what they do and that their perspective and their feelings actually matter to others. Put more simply (as listed above), autonomy is the freedom to be who you are. This is in contrast to behaving in response to external/internal pressure (external: behaving in order to achieve a reward or avoid punishment), (internal: I “should” or I “have to” to maintain self-worth or avoid feeling guilty). 

The practical application and full expression of this can be seen as represented with these four domains of autonomy: 

  • Self Respect: Becoming clear (intent) about who you are 
  • Self Esteem: Becoming content (mood) with who you are
  • Self Responsibility: Behaving in accordance (alliance) with who you are
  • Self Confidence: The feedback (calibration) you get from your environment about how you behave. 

Remember, in the gym, your growth is contingent upon you taking ownership over your experience. Taking ownership over your experience assumes you are thinking about and engaging in conversations with your coach about what motivates you, why you are motivated by the things you mention, and how you are behaving to actualize your motivations. What is written on whiteboard is not meant to put pressure on you but to be a tool to help you on your unique journey of intentional, sustainable growth. The manner in which you utilize that tool depends on you. Well, who are you… really

Measuring Human Flourishing: How’s Your PERMA?

Dr. Martin Seligman, credited as the father of Positive Psychology, describes and measures human flourishing and well-being based on five elements, i.e., PERMA. 

P–Pleasurable emotions (happiness, contentment, rapture, elation)

E–Engagement, aka Flow (being totally immersed in what you are pursuing in the moment)

R–Relationships (family, friends, worthwhile/enjoyable social connection)

M–Meaning (a sense of belonging, purpose, and service to something bigger than yourself)

A–Achievement (accomplishing new levels of skill acquisition, i.e., competence) 

What I like most about this mnemonic is how it can be a useful mental model for more deliberately reflecting on life events. For example, you can filter your training sessions through PERMA: 

  1. What positive emotions did you experience?
  2. How engaged and present were you?
  3. How connected were you to your fellow classmates/coach?
  4. In what ways did/does the training session connect to other parts of your life outside the gym? 
  5. What did you accomplish today and/or was there an opportunity to work on becoming more competent at certain skills? 

I encourage you to use this mental model to debrief your future training sessions. 

At the very least, you’ll become more aware of your experience and how it is contributing to your daily and overall well-being and ability to flourish. You now have another way of keeping tabs on your own intentional, sustainable growth. 

P.S. This is what I consider an example of a tangible and tactical mental skillset, i.e., when I deliver mental skills coaching, mental models like PERMA are used to help individuals improve their ability to become more self-aware to then accurately self-regulate and self-evaluate given the circumstances and their desired outcomes.