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Being proactive means thinking and acting ahead of anticipated events. Not only is it a great method for avoiding more work down the road, it can also be extremely important for averting problems.

To be proactive, start taking action, embracing your responsibility, and controlling your responses. By doing things such as anticipating your future and focusing on solutions instead of problems, you'll maintain a happier and more proactive outlook.

Method One of Three: 

Anticipating and Taking Action

1. Think about what is likely to happen in your future. 

By thinking about potential issues that could arise and being aware of possible future changes, you’ll be able to plan and act accordingly. For example, if you know that you'll be going on vacation soon, start putting aside money now for meals or fun activities to do while on vacation.

2. Stay ahead of less-urgent tasks

. By taking care of regular day-to-day tasks instead of putting them off, you’ll create less stress for yourself while also making sure those small tasks don’t turn into a larger problem. A little effort up-front could save you from a larger crisis later. Pay particular attention to preventative maintenance, whether that means checking the fluids in your car, restocking your pantry, or setting aside a bit of money in savings each week.

3. Prioritize the things that are most important.

Having a never-ending list of tasks to complete can be overwhelming, and it’s likely to cause you to run from one task to the next without ever actually completing one. Instead of trying to do everything at once, focus on the things that are most important and aim for accomplishing those.  If your to-do list consists of things such as cleaning out the closet, taking the car to get inspected, and reorganizing the bedroom, you should focus on the thing that is most important — getting the car inspected. 

4. Evaluate your actions to see if they’re working

. Every once in a while, stop for a minute to reflect on what you’ve been doing. If you aren’t reaching your goals, think about how you could perform tasks more efficiently and come up with a new plan.  Create a plan, checklist, or routine to accomplish the task. Look for steps in the process you can eliminate, consolidate, or shorten. 

Method Two of Three:

Embracing Your Responsibility and Influence

1. Take ownership of your problems.

You are the only one who can accomplish your goals and fix your problems. While there are people in your life who will support you, you need to rely on yourself to achieve success. Start taking initiative and embrace the challenge when you run into problems.  Instead of placing the blame on someone or something else when a problem arises, take ownership of the issue and work towards solving it yourself. 

2. Focus on what you can control.

It’s useless to spend time worrying about things that you can’t actively change. Use your energy and motivation to work on tackling tasks that you know you can accomplish. This will allow you to get much more done while feeling more positive. For example, if you're stressing out about your son's grades at school, you can't make him get good grades. However, you can help him study for tests, make sure he's getting enough sleep, and encourage him to take his grades seriously. 

3. Set realistic goals for yourself.

This is a great way to keep yourself motivated and moving forward. If you set goals that are out of reach, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and are much less likely to be motivated to continue working towards your goal. Instead of telling yourself to lose all of your extra weight within a month, set a goal to swim or run a mile each day. 

4. Participate actively instead of just observing.

Proactive people don’t sit on the sidelines or just listen to other people’s suggestions. Take action and start actively participating, whether it’s by providing input during job meetings or coming up with your own plans for family activities. 

5. Stay consistent.

Consistency in how you interact with others, as well as the actions you take for yourself, is very important. Know how much you can handle and take small, consistent steps towards your goals. If you make promises you can’t keep or set unrealistic expectations, you’re going to disappoint yourself as well as others. 

6. Hold yourself accountable.

When it comes to getting things done, you need to hold yourself to the task, making sure you accomplish it in an appropriate amount of time. This means taking responsibility and giving each task a sense of urgency. Consider telling someone else all of the things you're hoping to hold yourself accountable for. This person will help you stick to your goals and let you know when you could be doing better. 

7. Surround yourself with motivated people.

To be proactive, you want to spend time with people who will push to you excel and take action. If you’re surrounded by driven, motivated people, you’ll be more likely to stay motivated as well. If you’ve been spending time with someone who is negative, lazy, or similarly unmotivated, it’s time to put some distance between yourself and this person. 

Method Three of Three:

Controlling Your Responses by Being Proactive

1. Focus on solutions instead of problems.

While it can be easy to see problems as overwhelming, negative hurdles, try to change that mindset. Focus on becoming a problem-solver and figure out solutions to problems that you come across. If you see problems as things that can be fixed, you’ll find it much easier to come up with a solution. 

2. Communicate calmly in times of anger or distress.

If you find yourself getting upset when talking to someone, take a few deep breaths to calm down and refocus. While it can be easy to lash out in anger, it's much better to communicate calmly and effectively. You can take deep breaths to calm yourself down during any situation where you're feeling upset, whether communicating with someone or not. 

3. Avoid jumping to negative conclusions.

While it can be easy to make a snap judgment, it's important to get all the information before coming to a conclusion. Maintaining an open outlook will help you think more rationally and come up with better solutions. Maybe someone didn't respond to your text message — instead of assuming they just don't want to talk to you, consider that they may be super busy or don't have their phone on them. 

4. Put yourself in others' shoes for a different viewpoint.

If you're having trouble understanding someone's side of things or just want to get a more accurate picture, consider the other person's viewpoint. Empathy will help prevent you from only seeing one side of things.

 For example, if an employee or coworker is always showing up late to work, try to understand why this might be happening. Do they have children that need to be driven to school? Do they have reliable transportation? Try seeing the issue from their viewpoint. 

5. Do constructive activities when you're feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

Instead of being bogged down by feelings of anxiety or an unhealthy amount of overthinking, try distracting yourself by getting things done. Channeling your energy into completing small tasks will help you feel positive and productive.

For example, if you can't stop stressing and worrying about whether or not you'll be getting a raise at work, set your mind to simpler tasks, such as fixing up the yard or doing the dishes. Talking to people you trust about the things that are worrying you can also be a great way to get some advice while relieving some of your stress. 

6. Ask yourself what you can learn from your setbacks.

If you go through a failure, try to learn from the experience. Think about how you could go about things differently. By turning setbacks into knowledge, you'll always be moving forward. 

7. Maintain a positive outlook.

Not only is a positive outlook important for staying happy and healthy, it's also a key aspect in being proactive. Instead of attaching negative vibes to problems, try to stay positive and see them in a different light. When you start thinking negative thoughts, try to stop them as soon as you notice. Replace them with motivational, positive thoughts instead. 


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