Proactive means acting beforehand. Taking action in the present will influence things in the future, perhaps even the future itself. So always think ahead. Practice those habits exhibited by proactive people. Set goals. Schedule time for important activities. Plan daily. Use checklists. Review results, continually make adjustments to improve future outcomes. Plan long range. And maintain the right attitude. There is power in being proactive.
Proactive people are always looking ahead at future activities, projects and events and anticipating needs, problems and possible outcomes. Here are seven habits they have acquired that enable them to tackle almost any situation.
- Set goals. Proactive people hold planning sessions with themselves as well as with others, and set specific goals for the future. They not only put them in writing, along with deadline dates, they schedule time in their planners to actually work on them. By doing this, they are helping to create their own future as opposed to reacting to unplanned events.
- Schedule time for important activities. Proactive people use planners as they are supposed to use them – to record future events and to schedule time for priority tasks and activities. By being able to view the future, they are able to anticipate possible problems and act before they can occur. Just looking at an event such as a scheduled meeting in writing, sets your mind thinking about things you will need for that meeting.
- Plan daily. Ideally you will have scheduled your priority activities a week ahead, leaving unscheduled time each day for those important and urgent tasks and activities that inevitably pop up throughout the week. But you may have to do some juggling in order to fit them all in. Don’t let a priority activity be replaced without first rescheduling it to another time slot. And never replace a scheduled activity with a less important one. Remember that the good is the enemy of the best.
- Use checklists. Proactive people make up checklists for all repetitive events or activities, such as meetings, travel, conferences, sales calls, workshops and interviews. These checklists are updated if necessary after every event. If anything was missed, it is added to the list so that it won’t be forgotten the next time. Checklists save time and money and prevent errors.
- Review results. Proactive people don’t just follow through with planned tasks and events, they follow up as well, and make sure the value received was worth the time and effort expended. This ensures that they are indeed completing the 20% of the tasks that yield 80% of the results. Always question whether you are making the best possible use of your time.
- Plan long range. Proactive people recognize that it’s never too early to plan, and that planning too late causes crises and time problems. If the Titanic had started turning sooner, it never would have hit the iceberg. Small adjustments made earlier avoid large adjustments having to be made at the last minute.
- Maintain the right attitude. The most important weapon that proactive people have at their disposal is their attitude or state of mind. In fact, it could be called a way of life. Proactive people wouldn’t think of making a telephone call without first jotting down the items for discussion or going to the supermarket without first making a list of the items they need. They don’t resent looking at a map before taking a trip or reading the instructions before assembling a swing set.
Proactive people maintain their cool, avoid stress, and never let other people’s lack of planning become their crises. They don’t accept assignments without realistic deadlines, and never accept ASAP in place of an actual date. They are organized, efficient, and respect other people’s time as well as their own.