Weeks ago, I talked about autonomy, a sine-qua-non condition to intrinsically motivate people. On the other side, organizations need proactive people to make things happen. Being proactive is an essential behavior in today’s context, in which hierarchy is flattering.
Proactivity is acting with anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes without waiting for things to dictate your actions. As Stephen Covey said, “your behavior is a function of your decisions, not your conditions”.
Being proactive is basically about being responsible for what you want to happen, so the first things to develop a proactive mindset is taking responsibility.
When we refuse to blame external factors and focus on what we can change to go in the right direction, it’s easy to set the appropriate goals and do things different.
Proactive mindset can be trained, but it requires some effort. First step is to know what is important, where should be your focus. Being proactive is also about concentrate efforts to move forward in the right direction at a realistic pace.
Unrealistic objectives will prevent you from acting, which is what really defines a proactive person. Once you set your goals, you must do something to achieve them. This implies avoiding procrastination, and it doesn’t matter if you try something big or small. Just try something that makes you move.
Proactivity only happens on the control zone
This may sound obvious, but you can be proactive on things that you can’t control. Therefore, being proactive means identify what’s under your control to make decisions and forget what’s not to move on.
Talking about control, we can differentiate three kinds: direct control, influence, no control.
Direct control involves our behavior and habits. Everything over which we can make direct decisions. Influence is the effect of our behavior in others. We can’t control them, but we can influence what they do. No control includes all the aspects we can’t influence; so, we must learn to live with them. For example, we can’t control the weather.
You can only be proactive inside your control zone. This is where you could find alternatives and make decisions.
Every action you take has consequences because you’re making decisions between alternatives. And this is the cornerstone of being proactive.
Proactivity doesn’t mean you will have an answer for everything. It does mean you are open-minded enough to find different alternatives that make you closer to where you want to be. In this searching, it helps use the appropriate proactive language: I choose, I prefer, I will, for example.
By doing this, we put the focus in what’s possible for us at this moment. And it changes our perspective.
Feeling in control, even if it’s only a tiny thing, activates the reward mode on our brain, and makes us feel more motivated to move forward.