The last few years of my life have been the most productive years I’ve ever had. When I reflect on what changed, it all comes down to this one thing. I began living a life that is proactive instead of reactive.
It all began one New Year’s day when I remember throwing away my previous year’s calendar. That’s the realization moment, after the parties when you realize, “Oh man, it’s a new year!” Although, I can remember enjoying the day off, it was a bit disheartening. You see, I had been in what I considered to be a dead-end job for a few years at that point. It was a very stressful job that I didn’t enjoy. – Sounds bad, right?
To make matters worse, there was no end in sight. Another year had passed, and nothing had changed for me. I knew I needed to do something different. This was going to be my year; I woke up feeling very optimistic! This year was going to be a year of new beginnings. I was determined to become proactive instead of reactive in my life.
Many of us have had similar experiences. Perhaps you even feel like I am explaining your life today. I can promise that you’re not alone!
As someone who has made it out of a rough time in life, I want to help anyone who is in the same place. I am going to explain how I began living a life that is proactive instead of reactive. This will help you get out of the same mindset I was stuck in for years.
Shifting from living a reactive life to one that is proactive is a conscious and intentional decision. Naturally, the majority of us live lifestyles that are reactive. We operate and make decisions based on comfort and feelings, instead of discipline and intentionality. A simple indicator to determine if you are living a reactive life is if you find yourself saying or thinking things like these:
“One day, I am going to start doing that…” “Sometime soon I am going to stop this…” OR “I want to, but I can’t…” “I wish I could do something like that…”
We’ve all said things like these at one point or another throughout our lives. I have found that at the root of this reactive behavior there is one word which internally battles for control. Change. Change means to make or become different. The action of change transforms these words “one day,” “sometime soon,” “I don’t have time” and “I can’t” into “today I can, and I will!” Change is what will lead us to a proactive life instead of one that is reactive.
Example of a life that is proactive instead of reactive:
You have a choice every day to wake up with one of two mindsets: an owner’s mindset or an employee mindset. An owner’s mindset means you are in charge. You decide where you are going and what you are doing. An employee mindset means that you are following directions. You are following orders or someone else’s plan.
Now I ask you, which of these two describes the way you live your life? Are you the owner of your life or just an employee? The unfortunate truth is, many of us live our lives with an employee mindset. We let the whirlwind of life direct us and move us where ever the world wants us to go instead of taking ownership and proactively leading our lives.
Living a reactive life means that you change when life forces you to.
Most people hate the word change. Change implies that something unknown or uncertain is coming. As you know, change is inevitable. However, many of us prolong change until circumstances of life force us to react and change. Because many of us implement change when we are forced to do so, it is typically executed poorly and ineffectively.
Living a proactive life means that life changes when you force it to.
I have found that the best way to begin living a proactive life and to successfully implement change is by setting goals. Having goals creates a plan to follow and ensures that we are heading in the right direction. This is how we shift from being reactive to proactive!
Living a reactive life means that you change when life forces you to. However, living a proactive life means that life changes when you force it to. The choice is yours!
I set goals at the beginning of each year for myself. Every goal I set for myself falls within the following guidelines:
#1. Know Your Why
What do you want to do with your life? Where do you want it to go? Writing down your why helps you achieve your goals.
#2. Set Big Goals
Set goals that line up with, and lead you toward achieving your why in life. Write your goals down and have them visible so you can see them regularly.
#3. Embrace Discomfort
Make your goals uncomfortable. Make goals that will require you to change. You must embrace discomfort if you want to make progress.
#4. Get Organized
Schedule small daily or weekly goals/actionable steps that lead toward achieving your big goals. By doing this, you make your goals seem more realistic and obtainable.
#5. Scheduled Reviews
Use your calendar to schedule regular reviews. See if you are achieving your goals and getting closer to your why. Gauge if you are making progress and make adjustments if necessary.
From my personal experience, I can share a few things that living proactively will require from you:
- Intentionality – You cannot be led by your internal autopilot; you must be focused and driven.
- Discipline – It will require a lot from you. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it.
- Action – If you are to take control of your life you must take action!
I believe that by setting intentional goals and embracing change, each of us can live proactive lives. This will lead to a life of greater joy and purpose than we have ever experienced before. Join me in making the rest of 2020 a proactive year!