Being proactive means thinking about the future and focusing on the things you can control instead of all those you cannot. It also means taking responsibility.
The concept of proactivity was popularized by Stephen Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Being proactive is the very first habit.
As opposed to being proactive, being reactive means just waiting for things to happen to you; circumstances dictate your actions instead of your actions dictating the circumstances.
There is a stimulus and there is a response. In between, there is your freedom to choose what your reaction will be. Will it be proactive or reactive?
A proactive mindset starts with realizing that you’re not a product of your circumstances, but your decisions.
One of the most important characteristics of a proactive mindset is focusing on things that are in your control – you can’t control the weather, but you choose if you’ll bring an umbrella and put on waterproof footwear – and, ultimately, will you come home dry or with wet socks. Sometimes things that happen to us aren’t our fault, but they are always our responsibility, and proactive people realize that.
The proactive mindset is often intertwined with the growth mindset. If you have a growth mindset, you don’t give up when you face a challenge, you persist; you don’t see failures as a bad thing, but as the opportunity to grow; you are inspired by the success of others instead of envious; your goal is to continuously grow and improve yourself.
Proactive people are not afraid to make positive changes themselves, by taking action instead of waiting for everything they want to magically appear in front of them.
When a reactive person makes a mistake, they will make excuses or blame everyone but themselves: circumstances, people around them, Mercury retrograde. When a proactive person makes a mistake, they acknowledge it, take accountability for it, correct it and learn from it.
They know they are responsible for themselves and their life; they control their response to unpleasant or stressful situations, instead of letting their emotional reactions get the best of them. Team Inspiring Life provides you with 5 steps to become proactive in life and the workplace.
Team Inspiring Life provides you with 5 steps to become proactive in life and the workplace.
5 steps to become proactive in life.
1. Don’t Be Busy.
Only do what is necessary—no more and no less.
If you’re anything like this, as soon as January 1st comes along, you cram all your five-year goals into one packed year. You love seeing your schedule filled. But being busy isn’t the same as being productive. Peak productivity stems from being proactive. How to be proactive requires you to take a step back, re-evaluate your priorities, and take things off of your plate before adding new goals.
The brain is not designed to always operate at full capacity twenty-four hours a day. It needs a break. If we’re constantly immersing ourselves throughout the day with frivolous tasks, then we don’t have time to concentrate on our goals.
Think of it this way. Planning takes time. It’s like painting an apartment. Before you can add color to the drab walls of your living room, you have to plan and prep the area. The same is true for you to be proactive at work.
2. Don’t Pressure Yourself to Respond Immediately.
It’s okay to be surprised or be blindsided. Sometimes things just happen that are out of your control. What you are in control of, however, is your reaction. There’s nothing wrong with not having a solution or response at hand. It’s okay to take a step back and think about it first before responding.
3. Have An Open Mind.
Every single person has something interesting to share with people. That is the same case for you and the people around you. Factoring new perspectives and interesting ideas into long-term proactivity helps to create solutions you never thought of.
4. Stop Trying to Run Everyone’s Race.
If you want to direct the narrative of your life, you need to take a step back and get rid of the clutter. Figure out what you can delegate and then, focus your energy away from the distractions. Not every email needs a reply, and not every job is right for you.
If you want to reach your goals this year and be proactive, not reactive, you need to walk forward with laser focus. If you compare yourself or your business to the next big thing, you won’t contribute anything except a lesser copy of yourself and your organization.
Part of being proactive is being creative. You have to be able to see the different angles and nuances in a situation or project in order to anticipate potential issues and come up with creative solutions. If you’re constantly looking over someone else’s work, you’re not focusing on what’s in front of you. And you could end up missing a lot of obstacles that you could’ve avoided if you were paying attention.
Stop looking around. Your purpose is not to run the race of someone else. If you want to be proactive at work, you need to stop comparing yourself to your neighbor and stick to running your own race. It’s the only way that you’ll win.
5. Look To Understand Others.
Instead of meeting the demands of every person, learn to be compassionate and understand other people. In particular, you want to understand the people that are closest to your business – your team.
Work to figure out their likes, challenges, aspirations, and frustrations. These all gain important insights on how to influence them properly.
How this comes back to proactive vs reactive is that in business, it’s often not just you dealing with the problem but rather the whole team.