September 30, 2020

A Practice: The Five A’s of Agility

Part of our journey towards thriving involves agility. Pamela King explains how we can be agile through a 5-step process.

Thriving is sometimes misconstrued as a goal that we can reach—like a destination or an end point. However, thriving is an ongoing journey of growth towards our purpose. For those of us who like to check things off our daily tasks list, this can be quite frustrating. The good news is we can always thrive by moving along the path of purpose.

Adaptive Growth

Even during those days or seasons when we get off track, those experiences often yield invaluable perspective and perseverance to pursue our purpose. In fact, our purpose is often refined throughout life. For many of us know, declaring a major in college is often the first step toward (or, in some cases, a step away from) our eventual purposes. 

In a previous post, I described agility as an element of thriving. Mining through existing research within psychology has led the Thrive Center to identify a potential process in finding agility that we believe is helpful to keep in mind during your journey of thriving. This process—which can be applied to all dimensions of our lives from a biological, psychological, social, and spiritual perspective—emphasizes the iterative reality of learning about ourselves and the world.

The 5 A’s

The following steps can be applied to maintaining and improving your physical health, psychological well-being, relationships, and spiritual vitality as a foundation for the purposeful pursuit of thriving.

1. Attune

Tune in to your feelings and bodily sensations. It’s important to be nonjudgmental with yourself when doing this. What are you feeling? What is your emotional landscape like? Are you feeling joy? Sadness? Pain? Delight?

2. Aware

Now reflect and become aware of the meaning behind those feelings or sensations. What are they indicating? What does this reflection suggest about what is most important to you?

3. Align

Align your intentions with your beliefs, values, and purposes. Identify whether or not these intentions are aligned with surrounding expectations. Recognize the consequences.

4. Activate

Pursue your intentions. Activate resources, get help, and take action.

5. Assess

Evaluate how it’s going. What have you learned—about yourself, your goals, and the world you live in? What needs to change?

Repeat the Process

It is important to be an agile, thriving ninja—to adapt in changing circumstances. This will help you remain true to yourself and to your values. This is an ongoing cycle that can be applied to clarifying and pursuing your purpose, cultivating joy, living your spirituality, and refining your values. Give it a try and thrive on!

Pamela Ebstyne King Executive Director, Peter L. Benson Professor of Applied Developmental Science


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