How to Live a Life That is Proactive Instead of Reactive


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 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…”

Related Post: The best time to plant a tree is 25 years ago. The second best time is today.

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 simply 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 possibilities! Change is what makes us proactive instead of reactive.

Example of a life that is Reactive vs. Proactive

We’re going to look at this from two perspectives. 1. Imagine being the CEO of a large organization. One day, you host a meeting with all of your key employees. In this meeting you tell them exactly what they need to be working and focusing on for the next quarter. #2. Now, imagine being one of the employees working for this CEO. Your primary job function is to follow the direction the CEO just set. One of these people, the CEO, is setting the pace and the direction. And the other, the employee, is following the orders and directions given.

Now I ask you, which of these two describes the way you live your life? Are you the CEO of your life or just an employee? The truth is, many of us only live as an employee in our own lives. We let the whirlwind of life direct us and move us where ever the world wants us to go.

Living a reactive life means that you change when life forces you to.

Most people hate the word change. Changes implies that something unknown or uncertain is coming. As you know, change is inevitable. However, many of us prolong change until life circumstances forces us to react and change. Because many of us implement change when we are forced to do so, it is normally done 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! I personally set 7 goals at the beginning of each year for myself. I have a set of guidelines that these goals follow.

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 line up 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 2019 a proactive year!

Written by Alex Sanfilippo

My mission is to live a life honorable in every way to God my father. I am passionate about building disciples and strengthening the church. My daily goal is to be a positive influence on the people around me and to make the world a better place.