In business, we’re taught that in order to be successful, we need to work proactively rather than reactively. While it’s true in our professional life, it’s also accurate in our personal life as well. Being more proactive is a skill that can be learned. It’s all about choices!
Being proactive means planning ahead, anticipating problems and having solutions ready to implement when needed. On the other hand, being reactive means having no plan in place and waiting for problems to surface before evaluation potential solutions. There are pros and cons to each approach. Here are some strategies to consider if you are looking to move from working or thinking reactively to more proactively.
1 – Consider the cost and consequences for being reactive
Planning ahead can save time and money. When we don’t, the cost can be significant. For example, if you are planning to attend a conference and register at the “early bird” rate, the savings is typically hundreds of dollars. If you wait till the last minute, not only will you pay significantly more, but you may miss out on the classes you want to attend as they might be filled. Can you think of a time in your personal or professional life where you didn’t plan ahead? What were the consequences?
2 – Create a realistic, practical plan
Creating a plan to follow is a proactive approach that will help keep you on track. If you are trying to save money, consider doing an auto deposit into your savings account with every pay check. If it’s done automatically, you’ll never miss it. But if you had to go to the bank and make the deposit, most likely you won’t. What parts of your life do you need to do more planning? When my kids were young, we always had a back-up plan for what we would do if they were sick and needed to stay home from school. Having a plan, limited the stress as we already knew what we would do. With every minute we spend planning, over time an hour is earned!
3 – Have an accountability partner
If planning ahead doesn’t come natural to you, start small. If getting ready for work in the morning is stressful, come up with a plan that can help limit your stress in this area of your life. It could be getting your clothes ready or making your lunch the night before. Select an accountability partner. This is someone who will gently remind you of the things you promised to do. It’s helpful to have someone at work and at home. Many of us will not think twice about letting ourselves down, but we don’t do it to someone else. Being an accountability partner for someone else, can actually make us more accountable to our self as well. Who are some of your potential accountability partners?
Steven Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People said, there is a 5000% difference between someone who is proactive as opposed to reactive. Wow! Which do you choose to be?