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What do we mean by autonomy?

It is easy to define autonomy in the abstract, as the ability to chart your own course in life – but what does that mean, exactly?

First, you need a sense of direction:

  • Where is it that you want to go?

  • How do you choose your path from the seemingly endless range of possibilities that the modern world offers?

  • How do you make sure you have enough information about the various options before making a choice?

  • And how do you disentangle the expectations of others from your own wishes and desires?

Answering these questions is necessary, but not sufficient for an autonomous life. For even with a sense of direction, you need a strategy to work towards your objectives, as well as the self-regulatory capacities to pursue it.


Let’s say you know you want an international career as a diplomat. You then have to develop a strategy to get there - for example, studying international relations and finding relevant international internships. But you also need to have the skills and grit required to actually achieve these things: put in the effort to get sufficiently high grades in school and university, undertake extracurriculars that build a CV that meets the requirements of the Foreign Ministry, and make sure you develop the social skills and personal connections that matter in this line of work.


And this is most likely only one of your goals in life. Because as you grow older, you develop new relationships and responsibilities. You change, as do your circumstances, and you learn more about yourself and the things that matter to you. And so as you focus your efforts on achieving your diplomatic dreams, you also have reconcile this goal with your other ambitions and allow yourself to adapt to new experiences along the way.


What happens if you don’t do these things? In the 1952 movie Ikiru, a successful but terminally ill bureaucrat finds that life has passed him by, lived largely unintentionally. In the few months that remain to him, he is left desperately reflecting and redirecting his life in search for meaning.


What if he had stopped to pause and think much earlier on, to check in with his goals and updated his strategies to achieve them? At their core, this is what our LM tools help you do: to slow down the train of life so you can check in with your goals and redirect your actions to align with them. And you can use the learning cycle to do this.

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