Proactive vs. reactive thinking

Proactive vs. reactive thinking

Do you often find yourself asking: How the hell did this happen?

If so, you probably have a reactive attitude towards life, instead of a proactive approach.

And if you want a better, more fulfilling life, it pays to be proactive.

People with a reactive attitude:

  • don’t typically take responsibility for their actions and the consequences
  • often find themselves “fighting fires” and dealing with crises

People with a proactive approach:

  • take responsibility for their actions and the consequences
  • don’t “fight fires” often since they prefer “preventive medicine” and looking at the long-range effects of their actions.

Now, notice we say “people with a proactive/reactive attitude” rather than “proactive/reactive people”.

Because you can choose to think and act proactively or reactively — it’s not “who you are.” All it takes is some self-awareness.

Notice when you are telling yourself reactive things like:

  • I can’t believe ____ happened! Now I can’t ____.
  • I would have done ____, but they/the weather/my dog/____.
  • Why does this always happen to me?

How can you become more proactive?

Here are some ways to start acting more proactively:

  • Control and manage the things you can control and manage. Do the best you can with what you have.
  • Anticipate and plan. Look ahead. Few things are shocking. Bad weather in winter, long lineups at the airport, or meetings at the office should not come as a shock.
  • Be solution-oriented, not problem-oriented. Focus on what you can DO right now, rather than how much things suck.



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