Surfer riding on the wave of life and success

Proactive Versus Reactive Mindset

Being proactive is a lot like being a surfer. When surfing, you cannot control the waves that are being thrown at you, but you can learn how to ride the wave and regain some of the control. Similarly in life, being proactive does not mean controlling everything, but rather making decisions based off of the events that life hands you. Being proactive means leaving an impact on your life by making your own decisions instead of just going down the path of least resistance. In life, you can either let the waves push you around or you can take control and use the waves to push yourself.

Now, you may be asking, ‘how do I become a more proactive person?’ and, ‘in what ways do I have control in my life?’ Finding the answers to these questions is a process and something that takes time and effort to understand. The best way I have found to be proactive is by following a simple checklist.

1. Make a list of the things you’d like to change
The first step in becoming proactive is to write down anything in your life that you may want to change or anything that is worrying you. It does not matter if it is some super small or a ginormously big task; the goal is just for you to have everything laid out in front of you.

2. Review your list and determine what you have control over
It is an unfortunate truth but you must accept that you do not have control over all of your problems and worries. Therefore, if you can’t control it, take it off the list. The purpose of this is that if you can’t change something then you do not want to spend time worrying about it, especially when there are other things to focus on that you can change!

3. Develop a plan to make a change
This step can vary from task to task since some things will be very easy to change while others might require a complete plan of their own to be completed. Either way, it is important to have some sort of plan of action that you can follow as you go about making the change..

4. Set the plan into action
This is the step that requires you to go out and actually be proactive. It sounds simple because you just created a plan and have everything laid out all nice but it is always easier to say than it is to do. Just try to remember that this is where you begin to exercise control over your life.

5. Track your progress
This is another one that varies depending on what you are trying to change. Regardless of the change, you want to be able to track your progress in some way. This step is very important for larger changes because it forces you to stick to your plan and help ensure that if something unexpected comes up, you notice it and adjust accordingly.

6. Complete your plan
You recognized something in your life needed to be changed and took the steps necessary to change it. At this point, there is nothing else left on your plan to do and you have made an impact on your life. Congratulations, you are now being proactive!

7. Take a look back
This step is vital because looking back on how things were handled you can learn how to do things better in the future. Even if you made a decision that did not end up being ideal, you still made the decision instead of having one made for you. Now you can look back and see how things could have been done differently.

Hopefully, this list allows you to become a more proactive person and you decide to take control of your actions. There will be times where you will be overwhelmed from doing multiple steps at once and in those times it is important to remember you have control over how you respond.

Now, you might have tried being proactive in the past and things kind of just trailed off or maybe you have never even tried to be proactive and this all seems like way too much of a process. If that is the case, then there are a few things that you can try to do and kick start or revitalize your proactiveness.

Let’s start off with a simple one that can help when you are feeling overloaded with everything. Simply complete a small task or two (maybe three). This helps because it throws you a couple of easy wins which can really help give you some needed energy and put you back on track to complete some of the bigger things.

Another strategy to remember is that when you are feeling overwhelmed rest and relaxation should be a part of your plan of action. No one should be working 24/7 so remember that it is okay to recharge your batteries and do some things you enjoy.

This next piece of advice is vital to remember and possibly the hardest to do; it is to only focus on the problems that you have control over. Spending time focused on problems that you cannot control will only result in additional stress and wasted time.

Something else to keep in mind while embarking on the journey to be more proactive is that you will make the wrong decision from time to time. It is important to remember that no one is perfect and you will make mistakes. However, since you are now proactive, you can determine what to do with these mistakes; maybe there is some way to turn it around or at the very least you can learn from it.

The last piece of advice I have to be proactive is to plan, plan, and plan. This one should be obvious by now, but it is very important to remember once you have gotten the hang of being proactive. You have to continue to plan out what you want to do so you can have a path to follow, even if the plan is constantly changing from external factors, it is still very important to have one.

Hopefully, by reading this you have decided embark on the journey of becoming more proactive and have learned how to do so. It is important to remember that although you cannot control the waves in life you can control how you ride them.

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