Do you ever feel like life is carrying you along a path that you didn't necessarily choose, and you're just doing the best you can to keep up with all the twists and turns along the way?
Or maybe you feel like you don't have any real control over your time or what you do during the day, like everything is being directed by an outside person or situation or the tedium of day-to-day life?
Maybe you have big dreams and an idea of what you want your life to be, but you're waiting for an opportunity to present itself, waiting til you can "find the time" to put your ideas into action?
Being reactive = being pulled along by the currents of life
I've felt that way a few times in my life and it always feels so miserable and unfulfilling. Like you're the captain of a ship who instead of steering your way through the waves towards the destination of your choice, lets the currents sweep you up and direct you where they want to go. Sometimes, they guide you thru scenic places. Sometimes thru shallow water and monsoons and tidal waves. And during those storms, your only option is to figure out how not to let the boat tip, how not to drown.
In essence, this is being reactive- when your behavior is determined by the actions of others, or by a situation. You are constantly reacting to things "happening to you", or things you "have to do" rather than being the initiator of what's going on in your life.
The opposite of this is being proactive- when you anticipate what the future will be and react before it happens, solving problems before they become a problem, creating the results you want instead of waiting for them to "happen" for you.
Making more proactive decisions = charting your own course
I've made proactive choices in a lot of areas of my life and have seen what a difference they can make in helping lower stress levels and create more fulfillment and happiness.
For example, there is heart disease, high blood pressure/cholesterol and diabetes in my family that I could easily inherit and then have to reactively deal with. But instead, I made the proactive choice 10 years ago to become a vegetarian, to be concious about eating more low cholesterol, heart healthy foods and be as healthy as I can be to hopefully stave those diseases off. Has it always been easy being vegetarian? Nope. Does it make me feel happier, healthier and less stressed out about the future? Yep!
In another example, I was working a perfectly good job at a great company surrounded by amazing co-workers, but I didn't feel creatively fulfilled- a deep down part of myself was not happy. So instead of "riding it out", waiting for a better position in the company or for some opportunity to come my way, I proactively started my blog, started a business and made my escape plan. Was it easy to quit and leave behind friends and health insurance and security? Nope. Do I feel happier and more fulfilled now than ever? Yep!
Charting your own course sure isn't easy, but easy isn't always best
I think we tend to keep ourselves in a reactive position because it's easier, in a way. If things are constantly "happening to us" it feels beyond our control and thus beyond our responsibility. It's easy to be a victim of circumstance, to whine and complain about how we're not happy because of this person or that thing or something in our past. It's easy to always have an excuse as to why we aren't living the life we wish we could be.
It's hard to steer yourself around those outside influences as you decide to go your own way. It's hard to make decisions that others might think are strange or crazy. It's hard to take responsibility for creating the life you want, but that's what being proactive is all about.
I don't think happiness and fulfillment come from living a life that's easy- they come from living a life that is your own. Being more proactive is about making the decision to consciously direct your life instead of allowing yourself to be pushed along by external currents.
Instead of seeing what happens, how can you make it happen? Instead of waiting for opportunity to present itself, how can you create an opportunity? What's one proactive decision you can make today to set yourself in motion toward your goals?
It's time to hoist the sails, chart your own course and set out towards the destination you want for your life!