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Be Proactive

I've written about the wondrous work of author and expert James Clear on habits in my newsletter before. If you're familiar with Clear's message, you know it takes significant investment to develop sustainable habits that lead to desirable results. If you aren't quite ready to make that investment, it's your lucky day.

When James Clear was only three years old, Dr. Stephen R. Covey published what has become one of the most well-known and influential personal development books of all time, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Unlike Clear's work where we have to think, Covey's book delivers seven fully developed habits, given to you on a silver platter, ready to be implemented. Over the next seven weeks, we'll walk through one habit per week and, as always, I'll leave you with a quote, question, and action to implement this habit in your life.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

The first habit is all about taking responsibility for your life. Proactive people don't blame their behavior on outside circumstances. Instead, they see their attitude and actions as a personal choice they're making. The opposite of a proactive person is a reactive person. Proactive people can smile through a storm, while reactive people let the weather determine their mood.

About a year ago I had a personal revelation that I was, at times, a reactive person. For me, my reactivity is most prevalent when I haven't eaten. I am notorious for getting "hangry." If you're not familiar with the term, it's when someone gets so hungry they get angry. A year ago, I was in the car with my wife and being short. I realized I was doing it, but I couldn't figure out why I was frustrated. Then, I became more frustrated that I was frustrated and didn't know why. I began to spiral. Reacting to the traffic, the radio being to loud, turning anything else that should have been a slight inconvenience into another thing to be angry about. After a few minutes, my wife pulled into a local taco shop and started getting out of the car. I looked at her and before shutting the door she said, "You're hangry, let's eat."

A proactive person has the self-awareness to know that food helps preserve patience. Proactive people don't react or stress about conditions or factors they have no control over. Put simply, they don't focus on what concerns them, but what they can influence. Covey calls this the circle of concern and the circle of influence.

The more time we spend fretting over things we can't control, the less influence we have on the given situation. Instead, put your time and energy into what you can control.


Start replacing reactive language with proactive language.

Change: "Their driving makes me so mad."

To: "I can't control their car, but I can control my reaction."


When are you most reactive?


“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” - Dr. Stephen R. Covey

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