Being reactive is all about responding to situations that arrive and handling them. Individuals that excel at this are in high demand in our modern I-need-it-now world. Being reactive then sounds like a perfectly fine thing to be. There are plenty other situations worse than being reactive. For example some people just ignore problems that come up, expecting others to bring up the slack. Or worse, they promise that the problem has been fixed, and yet they haven’t touched it. So compared to those examples, being reactive sounds wonderful and you have the benefit of the problem being taken care of.
There are a few problems with being reactive. At some point if your only mode is working in reaction, problems will start to get dropped. If dropping problems becomes a habit, your reputation and integrity plummets. Being reactive usually shows that something was missed, which makes your clients feel you don’t really have things under control.
A few signs that you are living reactively.
- If you answer the question “How was your day?” with “I have been putting out fires all day!”
- If you wake up in the morning and say to yourself, “I wonder what I should be doing right now?”
- If you never feel truly satisfied with what you accomplished during the day.
- If after a problem is solved, you take more significance in solving the problem than thinking through how the problem showed up in the first place.
- You never feel like you can get away or stop because everything will fall apart.
Here is the fundamental issue behind being reactive. It’s a constant reminder that you may not have what it takes. That in some way you are failing. Even though you can fix a problem, you can’t figure out a way to stop them from happening. Living in reaction is perhaps reinforcing the view we have of ourselves and that question must be answered. Living in reaction really just creates stress. Stress and fear are really one and the same. Both of them leave you exhausted, aged, and mentally spent. How good would it be if there was another option!
Wait there is another option. That option is to be proactive. What does proactive look like?
A few signs that you are living proactively.
- Your time spent in the office is spent planning and producing!
- You wake up in the morning and know what you are wanting to accomplish that day.
- You feel energized after work, allowing time for your family.
- You take great significance in turning a “failure” into a learning lesson, implementing a plan to avoid the same problems in the future.
- There is a capacity in your schedule to plan in space. Space to live and breathe.
Being proactive is staying ahead of projected hurdles. Handling them before they even happen. I love living proactively as it gives me strength, power and life. It brings hope and a plan where there has only been darkness.
So how do you move from being reactive to being proactive?
- Acknowledge when you are being reactive. This honestly is the first step towards change. Keep a list of situations you are being reactive to.
- Build a life plan and even a work plan! If you don’t have a list of priorities or measurable goals to govern your time, this is where to start. If you are waiting for someone else to hand one to you, stop waiting. Build one yourself and bring that value to the table.
- Review your plan to be proactive weekly. As you put the plans and measures in place to handle the items you are being reactive to, realize that it takes time to master but measurable goals will give you a feeling of success.
- Rid yourself of reactive things that aren’t important. That might be other peoples agendas, or ones you use to numb your own feeling of inadequacy. But define the items that are being put on your plate to react to that aren’t necessary. These problems or situations are just distracting you from pursuing a proactive state.
- Celebrate when you have energy because you are succeeding. This is important because it will solidify the energy of being proactive. Don’t celebrate fixing a problem, celebrate putting something in place to have it never happen again. Drive that feeling into your way of being. For heavens sake don’t take your new free time and energy and start solving other people’s problems.
Being proactive will allow you to start adding real value in your business. View your business from the 10,000 ft level and truly see where you want to go. Bring that back to your team and give them lives of productivity and reduced stress. Build on being productive and success will follow.
What is being productive look like to you?