Reactive vs. Proactive

Have you ever wondered how many things in life you have done on your own? I mean, truly on your own, with all your willpower.

Many of the things we do because we have to. Why do we have to? Because if we don't, negative consequences will hit us. Or we only think so. The point is that we don't want that to happen.

I call such actions reactive. The environment causes us to react to external factors. Deadline is a good example—if we skip the deadline, it hurts. That's why fake deadlines never work—they're not scary enough, and we can ignore them. Unfavorable consequences can be anything our brains would rather avoid, starting with negative emotions and ending with death.

The opposite is being proactive. It's when we take the initiative and responsibility because we genuinely want it. It's a real demonstration of our willpower. Usually, such actions are very rational and thought through. They define us and give us a sense of identity.

Some people manage to be very successful and yet be mostly reactive. It's because they know themselves very well and know their constraints to trick their minds into doing what they rationally want. I don't think it's the same as being proactive; it's essentially doing what you don't want to do—a lack of freedom of choice.

  • How many proactive actions you've done in life?
  • What are these actions?
  • Do you feel control over your life?