How To Take Control And Be Proactive vs. Reactive


Life can be unpredictable.  At any time, an unpredictable event can occur that requires you to respond.  How you respond can determine whether you are proactive or reactive.  Proactive people have plans and adapt enough to take charge and make clear decisions.  Reactive people on the other hand, allow events to blindside them.

According to  Stephen Covey, Proactivity is one of the most important characteristics of successful and personally effective people. In his book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Covey sees proactivity as the foundation of all the other 6 Habits, and therefore has proactivity as Habit #1.

Why is proactivity so important?

When you are living in a constant reactive mode, your stress levels rise as a consequence.  By failing to plan ahead, you will fall victim more often to unforeseen circumstances.  Another disadvantage is that reactive people are usually at the mercy of proactive people, since they tend to think and be one step ahead.  They are better at anticipating major developments.

Most people spend their lives looking in the rear-view mirror instead of out the windshield.  Don’t worry about what you could have done.  Focus on how you can leverage your past to win your future.


So how can you take control and be proactive vs. Reactive?
  • Create a plan for continuous self-improvement even during good times. Proactive people understand that it is not only about getting ready for the tough times.  It is also about preparing consistently to be the best you can be.
  • When it comes to making decisions, base your decisions on your core values. When a situation arises, use your personal philosophies to guide your reaction.  Commit to yourself that you will not step away from your core principles.
  • Understand your environment and keep looking for ways of improvement. Keep communication lines open to keep apprised of any potential opportunities or barriers.
  • Once you commit to your philosophies and understand your environment, you can now set goals to plan your priorities. Take conscious control of your life.


“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” – Jim Rohn


  • Look for ways to create opportunities. Think long-term when making decisions.  Weigh every short-term gain against any long-term loss.


[tweetthis]“The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it.” – Stephen Covey[/tweetthis]


Once the above 5 steps become habits, you are one step closer to being Proactive.


Proactive people:

Predict and Anticipate any barriers or opportunities

Practice Prevention by working on self-improvement

Plan with Goals that are aligned with their Personal Philosophy

Participate and Perform actions to design their life on purpose


People are always blaming
their circumstances for what they are.
I don’t believe in circumstances.
The people who get on in this world
are the people who get up
and look for the circumstances they want,
and if they can’t find them, make them.

George Bernard Shaw

What steps do you take to be more Proactive?