Proactive vs Reactive

Thereare  two ways you can live your life – proactively or reactively.

Taking a look at how they are defined, you'll get something like this:

  • Reactive: acting in response to a situation rather than creating or controlling it.
  • Proactive: creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened

Reading those two definitions, it can be easy to jump on the train that proactive is better than reactive 100% of the time. It's the narrative we're sold, the narrative we buy into, and generally, the narrative that gives us the feeling of control we're all looking for.

But no, this post isn't here to convince you of that. Rather in a two part series, we'll be diving into each and taking a look at why both have a purpose and when and how to use them.

This morning, we will be focusing on proactive.

Why Proactive Matters With Damn Early Days

Living proactively means your putting yourself in control of the situation, long before it happens. It means you're making plans and decisions long before the situation actually comes up. If you're like most of us in the modern world, this is the sense of control you're striving for.

And in a lot of ways, it's exactly what you want.

Within the context of getting up early, it makes a hell of a lot of sense. I mean, if you're going to be getting up at 4:30AM, you might as well make the most of the time you're giving yourself, right?

Being proactive with your mornings gives you the conviction you need to haul your ass out of bed and takes away all the decisions you'd otherwise have to make when you're half asleep, tripping around your apartment, trying to make coffee.

This matters because at 4:30AM, when we're exhausted and still half asleep, it can be easy to convince ourselves that no future is more valuable than the feelings you'll get from climbing back into bed and curling up for just another 30 minutes.

Living proactively makes it a lot easier to come back to the things that matter and make sure you aren't putting them off.

If you're making decisions of what to do when you wake up, you'll more likely end up putting out fires or tending to the whims of whatever shows up that morning – whether that be emails, social media, the morning news or some other "urgent" task.

Living proactively means that you set out plans and find the time to get after what you actually want, day after day. You spend more time in reflection and generally live in the moment with more purpose and understanding of why you are doing what you are doing. Overall, this makes your life more stable and allows you to consciously focus on the big things that matter, even though they might not feel urgent that moment.

To sum it up, it will make sure you get where you actually want to go.

What proactive looks like

Being proactive in the morning starts well before your alarm goes off – looooong before that actually.

Being proactive in the morning means you have something to wake up for – even if that means you're waking up to find out what it is you eventually want to wake up for.

Once you got that, it's about laying out what you need to do in the morning to get there, the night before.

Before you head to bed (or sometime in the afternoon and refer back to it), create a clear picture of how you want to get up and how exactly you'll spend your time and why.

This can be as simple as planning your day out and writing a list of a couple key priorities or can get as complex as mapping out your day in intricate details – whatever works best for you.

From there, your job is simply to wake up, click into why you're doing this and follow the well planned out script that you made for your future self the night before.

Do this enough times and you'll start to realize how much momentum it can build.

If you need some help remembering about all this, go check out our post about building morning routines. It will refresh you in all the right ways.

Now go get it.

Photo credit: Wendy Shepherd

Julian DeSchutter