7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Number 1: Be Proactive

7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit 1:  Be ProactiveLast time, I shared a tribute to Stephen Covey, author of the worldwide bestselling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Covey’s recent death prompted me to re-read and re-apply each of the 7 Habits in my life.

Today I’ll share my thoughts on Stephen Covey’s Habit 1:  Be Proactive. This Habit illustrates one of life’s greatest truths and hardest lessons:  Everything is a choice.

I believe that being proactive is the first and most important habit of highly successful people because true success begins with the realization that we have the power to choose the life we want to live.

We can live life on purpose instead of being a victim of circumstance.  We can make life happen for us instead of letting it happen to us.

Unsuccessful people let life happen to them.  They believe they don’t have any control over the situations that are thrust upon them. That’s right.  I said that unsuccessful people believe they don’t have any control over the situations that are thrust upon them.

“Now wait a minute, Rich,” some of you will say.  “How can we have any control over things that happen to us?  That doesn’t seem to make sense.”

What I mean is this:  We have full control over how we respond to the situations that come our way, and our response immediately changes the situation – for good or bad.  

Actually, I’ll go so far as to say that our response to the situation creates a new situation.  It can be one where we’re a victim, or one where we’re proactively moving forward toward our preferred future and taking action to make it a reality.

Habit #1 gives us good news:  We don’t have to be a captive or victim of our past or our present circumstances.  We are responsible for our lives.  Or, as Covey says, we are response-able:  Able to respond however we see fit to the situation at hand, and able to choose the response that best fits who we want to be, and what goals we want to accomplish.

How to Be Proactive

Being proactive requires some advanced thinking and planning because we need to work through how we will respond to situations when they arise.  This is especially true if we find ourselves getting stuck with the same negative thinking and responses over and over again.

Here are some tips on how to be proactive:

  • Feed your mind positive thoughts on a regular basis
  • Cultivate an attitude of gratitude in your life
  • Decide in advance how you will respond in certain situations
  • Rehearse your pre-determined responses over and over in your mind
  • Take the action that you know you need to take in the moment
Remember:  Our behavior is a function of our decisions.

Reviewing Habit #1 has been a good reminder for me that if you’re not happy with where your life is headed right now, you’re faced with two choices:

  1. React like a helpless victim to the circumstances that are being thrust upon you.
  2. Take action and initiate a change to create the life you want.

If you want to take action and change the results you’re seeing in your life, you’ll need to change your behavior.  If you want to change your behavior, you’ll need to change your decisions. And if you need to change your decisions, you’ll need to change your thoughts and beliefs too.  To learn more, read my post on The Belief Matrix:  How a change in your beliefs can change your life!

Over the next few weeks I’ll share more of Covey’s 7 Habits. By the way, Habit #2 is:  Begin with the end in mind.

How do you feel about your situation in life right now?  Do you feel like you’re a helpless victim to the circumstances that surround you?  Or do you believe that you can take action to achieve the life you want?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section.  Thanks!

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