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A lot has been written about living your life with intention and direction. Some call this a “proactive life”. To be a proactive person simply means that you face life and prepare ahead of time, as much as possible, for the future. On the contrary, a “reactive person” is simply trying to handle the latest problem or crisis as it comes along, and that is hard.
However, before I get started, I want to remind you of one philosophy that Zig Ziglar taught me years ago. Zig said, “If you are hard on yourself, life will be easy on you; but if you are easy on yourself, life will be hard on you.” I have taken those words to heart and I have found that they are very, very true. No one is harder on me than I am on myself and because of that, I find that I am able to live life to the fullest by being proactive, rather than living “down in the dumps” and being reactive. it is a choice!
I want to be proactive in all that I do. Although those are nice-sounding words, I have come to see that there are some simple and practical things that I can do on a daily or weekly basis that will help me achieve that goal. I want to share four of them with you in this Tip.
Live as though you are getting ready to go on a vacation – In other words, learn to plan ahead. When a person is getting ready to go on a vacation they begin to think about things that will happen while they are gone. Who will get the mail or the newspaper? Who will care for the pets? What doors need to be locked and secured? What lights need to be left on? When a person starts thinking about what needs to be done in advance, they are beginning to understand what it means to plan ahead, think and be proactive.
Keep a pen and piece of paper handy – I believe one of the most important habits a person can develop is to keep a pen and paper close by. I personally use this habit every day of my life. As you live proactively, ideas will suddenly pop into your mind and you need to capture them at the moment they appear. Remember: “A short pencil is better than a long memory!” Trusting that you will remember things without writing them down, in my opinion, is a sure formula for failure.
Visualize or process mentally what probably will go right, but what possibly could go wrong – By doing this, you are able to anticipate and prepare for any surprises. Using our earlier example of going on vacation, you might visualize lying on the beach in the sun, so you might want to pack sunscreen so that you don’t get sunburned. You might visualize having a wonderful time in a foreign place; yet secure your money and credit cards in a travel pouch so that not all is lost in the event of theft. On your passport there is a written statement that encourages you to make a copy of your identification page and keep it in a separate location from your passport document in case your passport is lost or stolen. In other words, as the Boy Scout motto states, “Be Prepared!” You are expecting things to go right, but preparing for the unexpected. Again, having a pen and paper handy as you are thinking through all of this becomes very helpful. You could also make notes in your cell phone, but I still like to touch paper. It seems to help me remember things better when I write them down and look at what I wrote.
Have some envelopes on hand – These are good for storing items that you do not want to lose. For instance, I keep an envelope with each separate month written on the outside of the envelope, with all of my receipts for that particular month inside the envelope. When someone at a store says, “Do you have your receipt?” – I sure do! Also, if you come across coupons in the mail or on-line, it would be a good idea to put them in an envelope that is labeled “groceries,” or “restaurants”, then you will know right where they are when you are ready to go shopping or out to eat. I have several small plastic container boxes with clear lids in which I keep odds and ends (like batteries and nuts and bolts and small nails, etc.) so that I can remember where I put them when I need them. I also have a bank pouch where I keep all of my spare keys. All of them are labeled with key tags and are located in one place so I always know where to find them.
I am not telling you any of this because I think I am some wonderfully organized person. On the contrary; I struggle daily with being organized, but I work hard to have some simple systems in place that help me to succeed. All of these options may not work for you, but do you have any systems in place or ways you have created to help you live a productive life? Or, do you often hear yourself saying, “I forgot” or “I can’t seem to find anything when I need it”? I want to have a life that is proactive and successful in nature rather than reactive and frustrating!
These are just a few of the ideas that help my life go a lot better and cause me to be less stressed out more productive. I have learned that life goes a lot easier when I do four things: planning ahead as though I am going on a vacation, keeping a pen and paper handy, visualizing and preparing my day for things that may come my way, and having a few envelopes or boxes on hand for filing and storing.
I realize all of the above items are very simple and nothing is very profound, but if you are waiting for some huge event to take place to help you begin to be proactive in life, it will never happen. It is the “little foxes that spoil the vineyard,” – in other words, it is the little daily challenges that trip us up the most. These simple steps have been extremely useful in helping me to live a more productive and proactive life and I trust they will do the same for you!
Tip: Four simple steps to help you live a proactive life!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm