Proactivity: Just Relax

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“Proactive people carry their own weather with them.”

Stephen Covey

“Proactive people carry their own whether with them.”

Kimberly Svoboda

I have discovered something that feels very counterintuitive to a Type A person like me. The more I relax and am at ease; the better I become.  This is a major paradigm shift for me.  I am an ACHIEVER, (#13 of my Clifton Strengths) so getting things done/checking things off my list has always been highly valued by me and many of the people I have worked with.  In fact, at one of my first jobs out of college, being an achiever was so important that it reinforced the very act of being busy.  The busier you were, the more people noticed, and the more you were rewarded. The challenge is whether you are busy on the things that actually matter or not.  Being busy is not a good indication of whether I am moving forward on my highest priorities. When I am overscheduled, rushing around, and sometimes downright frenzied, then my effectiveness plummets and I find myself not making progress.  This, in turn, creates frustration.

By contrast, I’ve discovered that when I am at ease and relaxed I am:

  • fully present
  • mindful
  • focused
  • more confident
  • able to make significant progress on the areas that are of the highest priority for me

According to Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

“Your life doesn't just "happen." Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you. The choices, after all, are yours. You choose happiness. You choose sadness. You choose decisiveness. You choose ambivalence. You choose success. You choose failure. You choose courage. You choose fear. Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.”

Makes sense, right?  But……. it’s so easy to get swept away and allow life to just “happen to you”.  You can be an inbox jockey, stuck in social media, responding to every phone call/text message/alert and be continuously at the mercy of everyone else’s priority list.  There are so many coaching sessions that I have with clients where they share never ending to do lists, the overwhelm they feel, and the frustration of not being able to get to the things that are most important. 

What if instead of getting swept away, we chose to be proactive and relaxed? 

Relaxation in psychology, is the emotional state of a living being, of low tension, in which there is an absence of arousal that could come from sources such as angeranxiety, or fear

By being in a state of low tension it can be easier to choose to be proactive.  Here are some examples of choosing proactive vs. reactive:

Proactive                                             vs.                   Reactive

Schedule top priorities                                               Get to them if and when you can

Set your top priorities daily                                        Have a long to do list with no priorities

Set times to review email                                           Opening emails as soon as they arrive

Exercise first thing in the morning                             Fit it in if you have time…. later

Create blocks of time to reflect                                  No time to think

Go to bed at a reasonable time                                 Drag yourself to bed way too late

Eat to live                                                                    Live to eat

The list could go on, but I think you get the idea. 

To be or not to be… proactive.  Whether you do, or you don’t, it’s up to you to make your own weather.  Wishing you much sunshine in the days ahead!