Proactivity - everyone is the same but we can choose the way we react to things.

What does it mean to be Proactive?

posted in: Habits, List, Psychology | 0

Word Proactive sounds very similarly to word Productive, but make no mistake – they have two completely different meanings. However, without one, you most likely won’t have the other. A few weeks ago, I’ve shared some tips on building a productive mindset, therefore, this week I would love to talk about proactivity. So what does it mean to be proactive? Well, the definition in the dictionary says that it is: “Action and result-oriented behaviour where one tends to initiate change rather than react to events”. It does describe it quite well but I don’t always like formal definitions, so let me give you an example, which would hopefully create a better image in your head.

It might be easier if we introduce to you the opposite of proactive personality – that is reactive personality.

Let’s take two complete strangers who were walking down the street staring and their phone screens. Incidentally, they have hit each other head on head. One of the participants became aggregated, angry and started to shout at the person involved, while the other just stood there holding his head. While it was obviously an accidental situation, the proactive person understood that and apologised, while the reactive person was the one who was shouting.

The Little story above shows us differences between proactive and reactive personalities. The proactive person sees the bigger picture and chooses the way he reacts to the situation, while the reactive one lets his emotions flow freely without even being aware of that. There are some things in life that we are not able to control, such as an accident that has mentioned above, although we can’t control some things, we can control the reactions.

Why should we care about being Proactive rather than Reactive?

The situation described above was an accident, but reactive people are most likely to react to many other things in life too. Without understanding, they are being torn by the circumstances and blame others for the bad things that happen to them. While in reality, we are in control of 99% of the things that we do. In addition, we might not be able to control what happens to us, but everyone has an ability to chose how they react to different situations. Everyone is capable of doing that, and it is in our nature to be proactive, but for some reason, people forget this ability and go the ‘autopilot’ which is being reactive.

There aren’t any rules that tell you how to become a more proactive person, but there are a few tips that I can give you that might help you to become the better version of yourself.

Honesty is the first tip. Being honest not with just other people, but being honest with yourself is really important. Sometimes you just have to stop and reflect upon things and ask yourself, “how am I doing”? If you’re fine, that’s good, if there is something wrong, try honestly figure out the reason and react if there is something you can do about it.

Responsibility is another key word in becoming proactive. If you understand that you are responsible for all of the actions you take and responsible for the outcomes you can control, you are a proactive person already. If you are just saying this to lie to yourself and to make yourself feel good about it, go back the tip number one and try to analyse yourself first. Responsibility = response ability.

Self-awareness. If you are a continuous reader of this blog you should’ve realised the importance of self-awareness in self-development by now. Self-awareness helps you to notice your thoughts, your behaviour and reactions in order to help you to control them. It is a really important aspect of one’s personality. You can read more about it in my previous article here.

Bigger picture. Seeing a bigger picture and slowing down your tempo might be handy in order to become more proactive. People usually react to the bad things without thinking about it, but if you see the bigger picture, you would understand that the thing that happens does not matter at all, and there you are getting all sad and angry about it. What I usually do is I ask myself this question before I react to any bad situation: “Will this matter a year from today?” In most cases, the answer is no, therefore I chose an apporriate, calm reaction and deal with it with no bad feelings.

Proactivity in personality can be practised and to become better at it, you must be consistent with it. Try to take things in a slower, more relaxed way and try to see the bigger picture everytime something happens to you. No matter whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, being proactive can help you to become bigger, better and brighter version of yourself.

Thanks for reading!
Tomas