In the International Bestseller, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey he discusses the power of Proactivity and the negative effects of Reactivity. Despite what most of us think, the word proactive does not just relate to taking actions before trouble arises. It is often placed in our employee handbooks. I will be proactive at my job and help the customer before they need help, taking initiative. Covey defines proactive– “It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. We can subordinate feelings to values. We have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen.”
Completely redefines the word in our common perception, doesn’t he? Let me repeat one component of that explanation.
…. “Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions”…..
Let’s relate this to finding success in the exercise and diet world. Proactivity is taking accountability for our actions. Skipping a workout…eating crap…being lazy. Proactivity is deciding to go to the gym despite the rain….eating healthy despite being stuck in an airport terminal…going for a jog despite there being a Seinfeld marathon on. Proactivity is the refusal of allowing your surrounding conditions to change your decisions.
Reactive people let the opposite happen. “I’ll wait ’til tomorrow to hit the gym”. “I was going to have grilled chicken and steamed veggies when I got home, but I’m too tired now”. Their physical or social environment has changed their decisions. They “react” to external conditions. Reactive people allow slow commutes to turn into “bad mornings” and let “bad mornings” turn in to “shitty weeks”.
Now of course “shitty” things happen to everyone and we are all reactionary, we can’t help it that’s what emotions are. BUT we do not have to be victims of emotion and we DO get to decide how we react or atleast how we project our reaction. YOU choose your response to a stimulus. This is the benefit of being a human over other animals or computers.
“Proactive people can carry their own weather with them. Whether it rains or shines makes no difference to them.”
-Stephen R. Covey