Reactive or Proactive?

I am convinced that one of the things that separates the great from the mediocre is in how they manage their time.  I can honestly say that this is an area of my life that does not come naturally to me.  By nature I am a very impulsive, free spirited type of individual.  In many ways this has been a great strength to me, but it has caused some struggles in the area of time management.  Years ago I discovered that there are basically two ways that we can live our lives: reactively or proactively.

When I live reactively, I live moment to moment with little thought for what’s coming up.  I am reacting to everything that happens around me, allowing the urgency of the situation to dictate the importance of what is happening.  I can tell you from experience that living reactively is not very effective.  When I live in reactive mode, I am always busy, but not necessarily accomplishing much of anything.

When I live proactively, I do my best to anticipate what’s coming.  I plan ahead and structure my time so that the urgency of the moment does not replace the things that are truly important.  Living proactively also means that I must take the time to identify and mitigate possible problems before they happen.  This can allow me to sometimes avoid the problems altogether, or at minimum it gives me time to think about a proper response.  When I live proactively, I am able to accomplish far more in the same amount of time.

Because of my personality type, living proactively can be a challenge sometimes.  My impulsive and free spirited nature begs to be allowed to live reactively.  When I spoke to my life coach about this, he helped me to realize that I cannot fight against who I fundamentally am – since I am fundamentally a free spirit I need to be, for a lack of a better term, proactive about my reactiveness.  Here’s what I finally came up with that works wonderfully for me.  I started with the concept of time blocking and made sure that I included time every day to be reactive.  About half of my day is structured and proactive, while the other half is left open for me to be my normal, reactive self.  When I follow this plan, I am amazed at how effective I can be.

What do you do to insure that you are being proactive rather than reactive?  Leave a comment below.

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