How to Go From Reactive to Pro-Active Thinking
One of the coolest things about what I experience in my work, is getting the opportunity to see how other individuals operate, and how they are geared toward certain traits and ways of thinking, their attitudes, and definitely their reactions to outside input. I too get to witness how I deal with how they deal; the situations, the crises, last minute events... all the good stuff, and bad stuff - it’s life in it’s glory and it’s freak out.
I'm discovering, at least from my experiences, that most of use are reactive instead of proactive most of the time when it comes to broader perspective of things. What I mean is, so many of us are not particularly grand at stepping back and being open and objective about our future, our families, our finances, our health, career, basically not really being in charge of our own destiny. If you were to watch me on any given day, I’m like alot of people with the tendency to spend our lives “monkey brain” reacting to situations and events rather claiming ownership over them and making healthy changes.
What happens so frequently is we get a diagnosis from our doctors that we’re sick; then we get scared. Based on that communication we vow to to that exercise program and to finally get healthy ( this is reactive). Our relationship ends, our partner starts a new life; we jump into the next pair of open arms and promise to do anything to make it work, or swear off love forever (this too is reactive). We push ourselves to the edge, have a breakdown and get really scared; We vigorously commit to less stress, change or quit jobs, leave our partners and maybe take up a long lost passion or travel with no agenda (yep, definitely reactive).
These are all super good options to negative circumstances, but the ideal choice is we opt for these release valves before painful reality smacks us upside the head and punches us in the face - hard. A life based on reactive decisions, made out of fear and limited options I can tell you from experience, is never going to be our best option for a good life, but that’s exactly what we do isn’t it? Knee jerk reactions, then figure out how to cope, and a whole lotta’ struggle. If we want to feel peace and amazing stuff with healthy results, then we want to choose to do something, decide what to do about it, and create the outcome that we want (this would be proactive).
I have someone I turn to when I know there is no one who’s close to me, who knows my life and my history, in a position to indulge my messes. She is so insightful, and what she shares with me is; There is a time to be reactive and the key to balance is to recognize these times and respond so that you can flip the situation to be proactive for you. As living human beings, we are asked to react and adapt to a vast array of input a zillion times a day, so this is not about avoiding the runner whizzing by you on the street (a smart reaction) or getting goosebumps watch a sweet, romantic scene in a movie (an unconscious, natural reaction). This is more about the super big stuff like, “what am I doing with my life” kinda thing. The proactive, hyper-conscious, fearless, intelligent and pointed choices to create the very best life you can. Not waiting for an amazing life to happen to us, or being frozen in doubt hoping someone will give you permission to take your life where you want it to go - I’m talking about stopping the crazies in your head and adapting to the changes going on, look forward, not behind you and move toward your new adventure proactively.
Taking a worker bee attitude to all this emotional business can seem alittle sterile at first, but I can tell you, mapping it out, doing a sort of timeline plan (I do this with my own client projects) and being somewhat analytical with our behaviors, rather choosing to be un-emotional, more objective of our actions and yes, our reactions, and being bone dray practical about what we’re doing with our lives and our basic purpose while we’re hanging out on this big bumpy, blue planet we all share. Going around without a gist of an idea of what we want, no plan, not opting to empower ourselves to make a decision about our life, is a bunch of waster energy bumbling along, reacting and reacting to nothing that really speaks to what we want. To me the most freaky part is, and something I am looking at big time, is in a flash of a moment we’ll be so much older. As I write this I know there will be those who in a few years from now will be going nuts, reacting to everything around them, running in circles, blaming others, making excuses, just coping with the crisis-of-the-day that comes and the scariest part for me... just talking and talking about what they’re going to do, letting the fear suck them up and not being proactive to see it come to life - to be a life you don’t have to look back on, but one you only want to keep moving ahead. For the most of us, we won’t get that cosmic sign we keep reading about, we hopefully don’t get that call from the doctor or hear about that breathless tragedy to get off our bums and and make a decision to do something. Instead I wish for everyone, including myself, that we stop wasting time, talent and a deep, deep potential and stand up, step forward and start moving to that life.
I know I personally have people in my world who believe so strongly and so intrinsically in my gifts and I know they watch and hope for me that I choose to keep fostering what it is I am and create amazing experiences consistently - I see so many who complain, blame and confuse themselves for fear of failing or the fear of maybe being alone that they waste those talents, their health and the open opportunities in front of them. I make myself crazy with frustration but I have faith and an intense belief in all our potential - waiting to do it versus just being that proactive person and actually doing it for real, is what excites me so much.
It’s so true, far too many of use over and over avoid making those important decisions and let random life actions or other people decide for us. When we do not have to be accountable for our choices and decisions the “blame game” kicks in nicely, removing the reality that what we did, turning over our power to someone else, kept us from taking any risks, therefore, no rewards either. Come on, make a decision. Make alot of them. Get squirmy, get uncomfortable about it, take that risk. Do something that you choose to do, no matter the outcome. Choose. Decide and act on it with confidence and courage.
I’ve been there so many times; we make quick decisions when we feel we’ve been backed into a corner and we are convinced we don’t have a choice. The trick is to recognize a tough situation calling for a strong decision and opt to make the choice before we “have to.” When a disaster hits us is usually when most of us finally pull that trigger, but how about throwing caution to the wind and head off the tendency to be totally reactionary and instead be proactive with your own future? How bad could it be to own your decisions and being in your own power to make the tough choices with confidence and a strong heart?
OK, so being proactive versus reactive definitely means you might encounter some discomfort, you probably won’t have a bunch of support, there might be fear, and you may have to deal with resistance from others around you who don’t always appreciate where you’re coming from. Breathe it in, toughen up and do it. I’m in the throes of some seriously big life transitions right now, a good amount of resistance and I have to suck up all my fear and doubt and walk right into it - manifesting your very own fabulous life and believing you are entitled to every wonderful thing that goes with it is a daily challenge and a very uncomfortable process. I tell myself when I’m gasping that it’s OK that it’s like this, that I’m OK and everything is going to work out OK. It will because I believe I am worth every moment of what I want for myself and for that, any amount of discomfort to be true and authentic to me has me holding on and pushing through the instinctual reactionary responses and consciously being proactive.
Think of it like this;
A reactive response is boring, totally predictable, hugely frustrating, painful, deeply unfulfilled, and entirely illogical – not to mention unhealthy when you think about what it does to our bodies when we are constantly reacting and stuffing things inside - not at all what most of us want.
Consciously choosing to be proactive can be amazing, personally and professionally rewarding, positively challenging, and yes, it can be scary. Scary like a roller coaster, that first kiss with a new lover, new job jitters... it’s all scary and it’s all very proactive for your fuller life! We can choose yucky feelings in our bodies and our hearts or we can choose good stuff. I’m scared about quite a few things at this time in my life, but I’m all about bringing forth a whole lotta’ good stuff so I’ll take my chances with choosing proactive over reactive.
Here are a few simple options to go from a reactive mindset to proactive thinking;
1. Take time to think on it, but if you ponder too long, or ruminate you’ll never act on it.
2. Visualize what the cost would be and the consequences of a life of only reacting to circumstances.
3. If I didn’t have a “this is what I want to accomplish today” list I would be a mess; start one and see the results.
4. Once and for all, one by one deal with your fears - head on, get it at now and stop waiting for it to go away.
5. This biggie for me; finally stop searching, wanting or asking for the approval of others. It just doesn’t matter.
6. My son taught me this; Have those goals and dreams organized on a realistic and manageable plan.
7. Give yourself specific deadline; “I am going to finish --- by Friday at 6PM. Then do not fudge, get it done.
8. This is a religion for me; I get the big stuff done early in the day whenever I can, can definitely help to keep you focused and on track with your plan.
9. It’s OK to lean on someone as your mentor; work with them (coach, friend, partner) to help keep you on your path.
10. I like this one from Chelsea Handler, late night comedy host, “Have your own damn opinion, get off the fence, and stop being a spectator!”
Yeah, we can get with that program, proactive is where it's at.