What it really means to be proactive

People think being proactive simply means taking initiative to get things done. But it is much more than that. It is about choosing to execute something strategically rather than mindlessly, changing something for the better and thus, creating a brighter future.

Being reactive, on the other hand, is just waiting for things to happen to you. It’s circumstances directing your actions instead of your actions directing the circumstances.

Yes, you cannot control everything that happens to you but you can definitely control how you respond to what happens. Here are some tips to be more proactive:

Proactive Skill 1: Cultivate a can-do spirit

Being proactive really means two things. First, you know the things you can control, namely your attitude. And second, you choose to have a “can-do” attitude. A “can-do”-type person is very different from a “no-can-do”-type person. “Can-do” people think about solutions and options, while those who chime, “No can do”, only focus on problems and obstacles. “Can-doers” think and act on how they can remove said obstacles, often turning setbacks into triumphs.

Proactive Skill 2: Push the pause button

Now, this might seem counterproductive to being proactive but sometimes, life moves so fast that you instantly react to everything out of sheer habit. If you can learn to push the pause button and think about how you want to respond, you’ll make smarter decisions and actions. The more you pause to plan ahead, choosing it yourself rather than pushed by external demands, the more power you have to be proactive.

Proactive Skill 3: Get political

Being proactive and getting people onboard with your ideas can be risky business. Do it right and you get rewarded. Do it wrong though, and you get punished. Proactivity in a group setting can sometimes be perceived as obnoxious or annoying, and this can be avoided by building your political and interpersonal skill. Being proactive requires an understanding of when it is appreciated. And if that’s not a skill you have, it’s a skill you need to learn. Remember, frequently getting training and sharpening skills is necessary. Being a lifelong learner in whatever you are doing will keep you at the top of your game, and propel you forward to greater successes.

So, being proactive is definitely more work. It requires a lot of thought and skill. You might not be able to change a long-ingrained mindset overnight, but you can start making more proactive choices by following those tips today.

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