An interesting article that all students should read, should you wait for things to happen OR plan for things to happen?
One of the interesting things about my work is that I get the opportunity to see how people work and how they're wired for typical behaviors, thinking, attitudes, and reactions. I get to see how they deal with situations, circumstances, events, catastrophes, tragedies, good stuff, and bad stuff – life. It's all interesting stuff for me.
I've learned that most people, most of the time, are reactive instead of proactive when it comes to the big-picture stuff. That is, many of us are not particularly good at taking charge of our future, our health, our relationships, our career, our finances, and our destiny. We tend to spend our life reacting to events, situations, and circumstances, rather than creating and shaping them.
We get sick and scared. We make a decision to start an exercise program and to get healthy (reactive). Our partner leaves us and we get scared. We decide to be a better partner and do anything to make it work (reactive). We have a nervous breakdown and get scared. We decide to manage our stress and cut back on work (reactive). We crash our car and nearly kill five people, and get scared. We decide to drive slower and be more responsible (reactive).
Yes, these are all good decisions, but they all should have been made before reality beat us over the head and punched us in the face. A life based on reactive decisions, made out of fear and limited options, is never going to be our path to our best life, but that's what many of us do: react, cope, and struggle. If we want amazing, then we need to do, decide, and create (be proactive).
There is a time to be reactive. We need to react and adapt to a range of stimuli thousands of times every day, but I'm not talking about avoiding the kid on the skateboard (a smart reaction), or shivering in the cold weather (an unconscious reaction). I'm talking about the big stuff; the “What is life really about?” stuff. I'm talking about proactively, consciously, fearlessly, intelligently, and methodically choosing and creating your best life instead of waiting for amazing to happen to us, or to ring the door bell.
I know it all sounds a little businesslike, but sometimes we almost need to put our life up on the whiteboard, get out the flow charts, and get a little analytical, un-emotional, objective, and practical about what the heck we're doing with our life, our reality, and our existence here on the big blue ball. Some of us seem to have no idea, no plan, and no ability to make a decision. We seem to waste a lot of energy stumbling along to nowhere in particular, nowhere that we really want to be, anyway.
The scary thing is that, in a minute, we're all going to be five years older. Trust me, some people reading this will still be going around in circles, still procrastinating, still making excuses, still reacting and coping, and still talking about what they're going to do.
It seems many of us are professional waiters. That is, we spend our life waiting for some cosmic sign or unavoidable reason to make a decision, to do something, and to get off our ass. What a waste of time, talent, and potential.
People who waste their ability, their health, and their opportunities and then complain, blame, and make excuses frustrate me and make me sad because I have more faith and belief in their potential than they do. I know they can create amazing, but they consistently choose nothing and do nothing because they don't need to do anything – yet. They're always about to do it.
Too many of us consistently avoid making decisions and let life or other people make our decisions for us. I have had hundreds of people, literally, over the years who have asked me to make their significant decisions for them.
"You decide; you tell me what to do."
"Sure, give me all your money and go away."
Are you kidding me? Seriously guys, c'mon – make a decision. Make a bunch of them. Get uncomfortable. Take a risk. Be the 12-year-old sometimes. Do something.
Too often we make decisions when we're backed into a corner and when we have no choice. The key is to choose and do before you have to. We finally address things (which should or could have been dealt with long ago) when a catastrophe happens, but often it's too late.
Being proactive usually means dealing with discomfort, a lack of support, fear, and even resistance from others. So deal with it. Toughen up. Creating your spectacular life and everything that goes with it is regularly a challenging and uncomfortable process. That's okay. You're okay.
Reactive is, "I've got massive chest pain and pins and needles down my arm. Maybe I'll go to the doctor." Proactive is, "Even though I have no symptoms, I want to live a long, healthy life so I have embraced the life-long habits of healthy eating and regular exercise.”
Reactive is boring, frustrating, painful, unrewarding, unfulfilling, and illogical – especially when you consider what most of us want. Proactive is amazing, rewarding, challenging, and scary. I love a bit of scary.
Here are my simple, let's-not-make-it-too-tricky suggestions for moving from a reactive to proactive existence:
(1) Think, but not too much or you’ll end up doing nothing.
(2) Consider and visualize the cost and the consequences of a lifetime of reacting.
(3) Create a to-do list right now and start ticking boxes today.
(4) Deal with your fears.
(5) Stop looking for, wanting, or needing the approval of others.
(6) Have your goals and dreams wrapped around a realistic, practical plan.
(7) Set deadlines for yourself: "I will do… by… "
(8) Get stuff done early in the day whenever possible. It helps get your head in the right place.
(9) Use an accountability partner (friend, coach, or mentor) to help keep you on track.
(10) Have an opinion, get off the fence, and stop being a spectator.
Ready, set, go!
What are you still sitting down for?
Article written by:
Craig Harper , Published ( BC Blogcritics Culture)