• Dave Beam

Practical Proactivity


If you want to be more proactive, your language will direct your mindset.


Please compare the following two sets of words. To get the full impact, read them out loud.

Set #1: Planning, creating, active, excited, energized, motivated, engaged, present, responding, participating, growing, flowing, joyful, curious, relaxed, anticipating, having fun….

Set #2: Wishing, hoping, reacting, bored, coasting, disappointed, discouraged, overwhelmed, surviving, stalled, stuck, worried, afraid, getting by, dreading, dying, tired……


The first set of words describes a world that is exciting, fully engaging and growing. The second set describes a world that is dying, and you are just trying to survive.

I have been in both worlds. I have clients that are in both worlds. If you are in world #2, I want to help you move to world #1, if you are ready. It takes action.


First, get moving…physically. Set a regular time every day to get some aerobic activity. Take opportunities throughout today to increase your physical movement. Use the stairs. Choose parking places further from entrances. Add steps to your day. Pick up the pace. Stand and walk tall. Replace an hour of sedentary activity (like TV watching) with a physical activity. In other words, act alive!! Your thoughts and feelings will improve as you choose to move your body.


Second, choose empowering words. I’ll do it vs. I’ll try; I want to vs. I have to, I can vs I can’t. You perceive the world through your words. You find what you look for. Your language (the words you choose) programs your mind and body to either be alive, vibrant, and engaged or tired, struggling, and sedentary. Carefully choose what you think about. Choose encouraging books, media, and uplifting conversations. Walk away from gossip, negativity, and victim talk. Your feelings follow your thoughts.

Third, be action oriented. Ask yourself “What can I DO right now to improve and change my situation?” Once you have a great idea, the time for analysis is over! Choose to take action on some great idea TODAY, and you will start to feel and think better as you begin a movement in a positive direction. By the way, congratulations if you mess it up. Mistakes are wonderful teachers!


Fourth, realize that you don’t HAVE to do anything! The foundation to ultimate proactivity is accepting the fact that you do not have to do anything. Whenever someone says “I have to go to work”, or “I have to pay my bills”, or “I have to go to school”, they are lying to themselves. The truth is no one has to do anything.


But this is also true. Though you can choose to do or not do anything, you cannot choose the consequences. Stephen Covey calls this being aware of the “other end of the stick”. You can’t pick up just one end of a stick. If you pick up one end, you get the other end as well. There are two ends to every stick, and there are consequences to doing or not doing.


It’s the principle of sowing and reaping. You can sow whatever seed you choose, but whatever seed you sow, that is the harvest you will reap. It’s foolish to sow corn and expect soybeans. You don’t HAVE to work diligently, but your laziness will reap unemployment and poverty. If you play, you pay. What goes around eventually does come back around. You don’t have to exercise, eat healthy, and get adequate sleep, but there are consequences for not taking care of your body. You don’t have to apologize, seek forgiveness, and mend strained relationships, but you will lack deep, meaningful friends.


Realize that you choose your actions, but you do not choose consequences. Proactive people choose actions that lead to the consequences they desire. Choose and act wisely, and then reap the benefit. It’s common sense, but not always common practice.


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