You have the power to choose how you will act in any situation. You have the choice to either step into the person you would like to be or to remain stuck in old bad habits. There are two major categories of responses to stimuli: proactive and reactive.
Proactive people consciously choose based on their core values. They take ownership of their lives and actions and control how they respond to stimuli, often remaining a few steps ahead. Reactive people’s behavior is a product of conditioning based on their feelings and emotions. They typically blame external sources for their turmoil and aren’t motivated to act unless an obstacle arises in their lives. For example, if you wanted to be healthier and in better shape, you would need to modify your diet, exercise more, and change your lifestyle to meet your objectives. If you are reactive and driven by feelings, you won’t stick to the plan because you might feel tired some days, or maybe you’ll think that there is something better to do. However, if you are proactive, you will stick to the plan despite your feelings. You will do it no matter what because you understand that your actions benefit your future self.
Motivation alone is not good enough. It is fleeting and falls into the category of reactive behavior. To truly succeed at anything, you need discipline, and unlike feeling, discipline is a stable foundation from which all other actions arise. We live in a world of innovation, which decreases the desire for the “I only do what I am told” kind of employee. Proactive future-thinking minds stand out and are most sought out by employers. While you may feel like you are being a duteous employee by being reactive, being proactive enables you to reach greater success.
Below are the qualities of a proactive person and how you too can become one.
Know who you want to become
In order to be proactive, it is essential to define your values and prioritize them. Create a mission statement to act as the guiding force behind everything you do. Having clear goals and vision is a map to the future you want for yourself. These goals can include setting out to acquire mastery of something, obtaining your dream career, or even developing new skills. Make these missions ambitious with a greater purpose behind the motivation to achieve them. You work harder when you are striving to make a difference in other people’s lives as well as your own. The investment you make in becoming your own leader will benefit you exponentially. You will begin to create the habit of making choices based on your values rather than being forced into them by fear or panic. You will know who you want to be and for what reasons, which is the solid foundation you need to remain focused on your mission.
Take ownership of your life
If something doesn’t work out as you planned, justifying it with excuses or blame doesn’t benefit you or change your circumstances. Rather than dwell in misery, learn from it and grow. What may seem like a failure is a step in your growth process. Every mistake allows you to acquire new knowledge for future attempts. A proactive person assumes responsibility for their life and all that happens to them. Rather than being acted upon, choose to act in a way that supports the bigger picture.
Anticipate and plan
Proactivity is a way of dealing with things by creating plans for possible outcomes. Unexpected occurrences are usually out of our control, but a true planner has a few different options to deal with difficulties as they arise. Proactive people are rarely caught off guard because they predict and anticipate consequences. Avoiding problems doesn’t make them disappear. They either get resolved or grow and become worse. It is always easier to deal with issues when they are small, rather than massive and unmanageable. Just like pulling dandelions out of your lawn, you want to tackle them when the roots are small and underdeveloped before they seed and spread wider.
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You must continuously take initiative to be successful in life. You can’t just wait around for things to come to you; you must pursue them! Those with proactive mindsets act now and favor prevention to support better future outcomes for their health rather than wait for a doctor to tell them they have an issue. Don’t wait for things to fall apart. Do maintenance now and take care of your car before it’s broken on the side of the road. Don’t wait to become sick before you adopt healthy habits. Don’t wait for a mention of a divorce before fixing your marriage. It takes a lot more effort and energy to fix something that has been broken than it does to take care of something proactively.
Desire to improve
A proactive person seeks out opportunities to learn and grow. Always aim to improve and keep an open mind. Take the initiative to make changes in your behaviors to align with the life you want to live. Don’t just surrender to external forces allowing the moment-to-moment occurrences to dictate your choices; look ahead and act rather than waiting for things to happen. Proactive people act mindfully with integrity. They have strong morals that inspire noble actions.
The bottom line
While you may feel like you are being a duteous employee by being reactive, being proactive enables you to reach greater success. Proactive people are highly sought out in the corporate world. They are those who always look to advance and move up within their careers and are typically the ones who are promoted quickly. If you would like to embody this mindset, don’t wait for work to be assigned to you; seek out ways to help and contribute. Analyze past work and brainstorm ways to improve upon it. Maintain an open mind and always be on the lookout for opportunities. Reactive people feel dependent on others and let their feelings rule their decisions. They are heavily influenced by circumstances and react primarily out of fear and desire for immediate gratification. They blame the obstacle and complain without taking the initiative to make a change. If this is you, the awareness and desire to change is enough to transition into a higher level of thinking. Though the cards you are dealt may not always be in your favor, you get to decide how to play them. In poker, it isn’t always about the best hand; sometimes, it requires strategy and control over emotions to come out on top. Proactive people know this and accept the responsibility of their lives. They step into their power and direct their lives towards success. Live your life proactively.
How do you practice your proactive mindset? Let us know in the comments!
Proactive vs reactive thinking (proactivemindfulness.com)