Personal-agency, also known as self-agency is a psychological term describing an individual with complete control over themselves and their entire life. When someone talks about personal-agency, or when someone says that a person has high agency, they’re describing someone who is assertive and someone who believes that they are solely responsible for their own thoughts, feelings, and actions. Others may influence their thoughts, feelings, and actions, but ultimate control resides with them. People with high agency are critical for society because they have the willpower and the know-how to impose their ideas on the masses. Leaders and not followers.

Defining Personal-Agency

Personal-agency is the power to see things through, no matter what anyone else says or suggests. It’s the power of will that drives a person to face a dire situation and win. It’s a trait that defines successful people who just don’t take no for an answer. Personal-agency is one of the most important skills in life, and it’s what drives us forward against all odds. Everyone plays by the same rules, but people who have high personal-agency can see things through, no matter how impossible they might seem at the beginning. All successful people like Jeff Bezos, Sheryl Sandberg, Michael Jordan, and many others display this incredible trait, one which has helped them reach never-before-seen heights, that has forever changed the entire world. Personal-agency is power over oneself. A power that keeps you going forward until you reach your goals, no matter how big the obstacles may get.  

The Benefits of Personal-Agency

High agency comes with benefits that can shape the reality around people. First and foremost, this virtue can help you get out of pretty much any situation, no matter how tough and hopeless it might look. People with prominent personal-agency traits can think outside the box and risk everything to get to their goals. During this event, they have full control over their own feelings and thoughts, and always keep their eyes on the goal. Things might become complicated at points, but people like this can improvise, and they go and jump over any obstacle in their way. The control they have over themselves is full and complete. That means that they’re almost always on top of how they feel, what they think, and what they do. Their happiness doesn’t depend on others, how much money they have or material possessions. People like this can make themselves feel happy in any situation and at all times. It’s one of the most important factors every person needs, to feel good about who they are.  

Potential Drawbacks

While high-agency provides all kinds of benefits, everyone needs to get through tough times, and in some cases, it can be counter-productive. For example, if a person with high agency is surrounded by many low-agency people, they might seem too dominant and assertive to everyone else. They’re the overly positive person and when that doesn’t align with the beliefs of those around them it can create conflict. Others may also feel threatened and as a result, have a lower sense of value. Since achieving high agency takes a lot of work, low-agency people will often push high-agency individuals away, keep a safe distance or even attempt to lower that person's value through defamation of some sort. Not always because they’re bad people, but because they feel bad about themselves and feel like situations are out of their control. It’s like being the one person in the room that's not drinking alcohol or displaying a common situational behaviour. It makes people feel uncomfortable as the level playing field it creates becomes compromised. Another area where high-agency can have a negative impact is listening to orders. If a high-agency person gets an order that doesn’t look like the best idea to them, or if it’s just wrong, these people will have a problem completing the task. They often have a hard time doing something they wouldn’t normally do, or something they think is wrong. In this case, they will either try to find a better way of doing things or won’t do as they are told at all. That can have serious consequences at work, relationships, and other areas of everyday life. People like this will always stick to their own ways rather than compromise with others. It can also come across as arrogance.  

Consequences of Low Personal-Agency

Having low personal-agency means that you’re not fully aware of your existence and what life really is. In other words, you don’t have the skills needed to see further than what’s obvious. You may grow up in an area that has a common or defined path of life. You struggle to see beyond that process and look outside the confines of that narrative. Instead of focusing on important things in life, most of your conversations revolve around the information you’ve garnered from television or the internet. You struggle to cope with deeper or philosophical topics. Instead of trying to understand you choose to switch off and stay within your comfort zone. Low self-agency people don’t ask or refrain from asking questions. They take things how they hear them and rely on other people to frame their narrative. They don’t have the willpower to learn or to adapt, which is why most low self-agency people don’t have lofty aspirations or notable drive. To put in simple terms, low agency people won’t risk things, they won’t go against the tide, and they won’t question orders or other people’s thoughts.  

Can You Work On It?

Yes, yes, you can. Low personal-agency is usually the result of the way we live and the people we surround ourselves with, rather than a trait we are born with. It’s driven by mindset. Everything that keeps our attention away from the realities of life impacts our agency levels. Whether that’s watching things that remove us from reality, depending on computers and technology or stimulating our brain with other artificial methods, the result is a loss of will and disinterest in progression. Instead of acting like a true individual who wants to understand life the best they can, low agency people surrender themselves to others and enter a fully passive mode. You can fix that by taking control of your life and thinking about what makes you happy. Think about what life really is and understand that you have the power and ability to change the reality around you. Start refraining from letting others dictate your life and make the most out of it by living an active life, both physically and psychologically. To exercise and to educate ourselves is a prerequisite to living with purpose.


Personal-agency is something we all need to get through life. It’s a driving force that makes us unstoppable and allows you to reach our goals if you truly believe in yourself. Modern society and media largely keeps us passive and puts a barrier in the way of us reaching our true heights. Wake yourself up from the slumber of technology and understand that you have the power to change the world.