I used to have a friend who struggled with getting things done. Almost at every point in time, it seemed as if she was not prioritising properly. This consequently led to people complaining about her work ethics and general effectiveness. Even some of her friends, like myself, became irked by her seeming nonchalance towards life.
Recently, we reconnected, and I was surprised to see some changes in her approach to work. It’s not like I had the intention to be judgmental, but I could not help remembering some poor old habits from when we used to be friends. We got talking along the way, as I asked her what happened to make her more visibly ambitious. She mentioned a list of things, one of which was “becoming proactive.”
This got me thinking about the general concept of being proactive and just how much it can impact our day-to-day quality of life. When people say the phrase ‘proactive, they typically mean taking initiative, that is, taking responsibility for your life. Responsibility connoting a Response-Ability which is the capacity to respond to the different stimulus thrown your way. As humans, we can be classified as Reactive or Proactive.
A reactive person is determined by external stimuli. The weather, a colleague, work environment or people’s opinion form the basis of their actions and reactions to life. The proactive person, on the other hand, creates her own weather not because opinions do not matter or are irrelevant but because she is value-driven. So, if her value is to have good work, irrespective of an uncooperative boss or colleague, she endeavours to fulfil her goals.
Being proactive empowers you to be your own cheerleader. It encourages you to strategise and learn to re-strategise faster when things seem to go amiss. I acknowledge that it is important to esteem and listen to the constructive opinions of others. But while you can take note of positive advice and criticism, do not build your life around these things. This is because they are usually offered based on the aspect/perspective people have seen. A change in perspective or a twist to the story might produce an entirely different opinion.
Proactivity extends to all areas of our lives as Eleanor Roosevelt rightly noted: “No one can hurt you without your consent”. I daresay that even when we might be our own antagonists, it is because we permitted it. It is usually our willing permission, our consent to what happens to us that hurts us far more than the incident itself.
In conclusion, choose to be proactive, to be value-driven. Beyond the planning and drawing up of the many to-do-lists, make a commitment to be proactive by working on a clear and deliberate plan that helps you achieve your goals.