How To Be Proactive

Here at YLB we believe that there’s more to health than just fitness and exercise. There’s a great benefit that can come from mental health as well.

This week I’ll be reinforcing the importance of personal development. For those who know me you know how big I am on personal development. I have a philosophy – one that I picked up from a personal development Guru named Jeff Olsen – that if you read ten pages a day of a good, you can be that much better of a person.

Be Proactive, and Have An Easier Life!

A lot of times I can forget how easy life can be if you just take a few simple steps to just make it not so difficult. One of my favorite books of all time is The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. His book highlights seven different principles that could make your life that much easier. The very first habit he talks about, and often times the one most often looked is the habit of being proactive. While most of the time I would think being proactive means just taking the initiative, Covey argues it means more than just that. He argues that we are responsible for our own lives.

The Proactive Model

In life there will always be a stimulus. That stimulus could be traffic, or the loss of a job, or sickness. The thing is, we always have the power to choose our response in how we react to that stimulus. Clearly, we can’t always control those things in life. For example, we can’t control the weather or the traffic, and if neither are good, then we don’t feel good. If they’re both good, then we feel good. Covey argues that proactive people make their own traffic – we carry our own weather with us. Can proactive people still be influenced by these things? Yes. But it’s their response that sets them apart as a conscious (or unconscious) choice or response. In effect, you are today because of the choice that you made yesterday from your reactions.

Taking The Initiative

This is proactivity in action and it comes down to one word: act. You can either take action or be acted upon. For example, do you want another job? A better family? A better retirement fund? Well, that job opportunity may not be there today but you can do things today to ensure that when that opportunity does come up, you are ready to strike. Have a resume ready. Be building connections. Be proactive by taking ten minutes a day to look at the job market while others are not. What about the weather? Yeah, you can’t really control that either. But you can control how you react to it. You can’t always control being sick either. But you can definitely take the initiative in making healthier choices.

An example of not taking the initiative:
How many people wait until something happens to do something about it? For example, I know a friend who was unhappy with his job. Said person would complain about his job and how he wanted a new job. The thing is, he would never take action. Then one random day the company sent out letters to all the staff saying that they were downsizing massively. The employees had two options: they could walk out and have three months of severance pay, or stick around and face an unknown future with the company. To his word, over half his partners took the severance pay and walked out. That means in just one day, that many people entered the job market to search for a new career. His choice was to stay with the company out of fear of the unknown. Now, if this person was proactive about his approach, how much do you think this would have changed his decision if he was prepared for a situation like this?

Act Or Be Acted Upon
Covey puts it best, if you wait to be acted upon, you will be acted upon. That doesn’t mean you need to necessarily prepare for the end of the world but taking initiative can be the biggest difference between you and the person next to you. One of the best takeaways from Covey’s book and how it relates to proactivity is the circle of concern vs. the circle of influence. As you would imagine, the circle of concern are the things we worry about. From our examples above such as the weather, health, or job loss, these would be things that fall under the category of the circle of concern. Now, our circle of influence on the other hand, are the things we can control. Covey argues that we need to be less concerned by the things that we can’t control and be more concerned about what we can control. A proactive person would put their time and efforts into the things that they can control where they’re circle of influence would increase. Now if you’re concerned about things you have no influence on, it causes your circle of influence to trump that of which you can control.

Circle of influence taking control of you:
seven habits of highly effective people

Have An Easier Life!

So what can you do to make things easier for you? Well, to begin, start worrying about the things that you have control over. There are too many things that we as people don’t have control over. It’s useless losing sleep on it. Instead, change the way you see things and be productive to use your energy towards things you do have an influence on whether it’s your finances, your health, your family, or your career. Remember, you may not be able to control all things acting on you, but you can choose the way you react with those things. That is what is important.

Proactivity in action:
Seven habits of highly effective people

The bottom line: Spend more time with things you have control over.

Do you have any other tips on how to be proactive? Leave a comment.

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