I know, I know – you’ve read it all before.

But take a moment to read this – I’ll make it as succinct as I can.

To me, being proactive means focusing on what’s important, not just what’s urgent.

Trouble is, like so many other people, I’m just as guilty as the next person.

The problem is our world is becoming an increasingly reactive, not proactive place to be:

  • New email? Better respond right away.
  • Meeting request? Can’t say no to that.
  • Slack notification? Better respond before it’s lost in the endless stream of messages.

Then, at the end of the day, we wonder where our time went.

What makes reactivity so dangerous is that it feels productive. After all, you’ve just responded to 53 emails, great! No, not really.

You see, there is a world of difference between “getting stuff done” and actually making progress.

Think of it this way: A proactive person is like a stallion and a reactive person like a rocking horse. Both are moving, but only one is moving forward. Who wins? You guessed right.

Proactivity always outperforms reactivity.

But what do proactive tasks look like?

  • Developing strategic goals to make the upcoming year successful and productive,
  • Creating a compelling list of reasons why a specific feature is important for your product in order to move the company in that direction, or
  • Writing a blog post to develop thought leadership in your market.

In short: Proactive tasks are the strategic initiatives that move you dramatically closer to turning your goals into reality.

So what does it take to be proactive?

In a word, discipline. And I have to remind myself of this constantly.

Here are a few tips:

  • Vividly imagine how it’ll feel to complete the task you’re putting off,
  • Visualise the consequences of failing to complete that task,
  • Publically commit to completing it by a clear deadline,
  • Identify the first step to get started, and
  • Reward yourself for completing the first step (my personal favourite)

Once you’ve taken that first step, the momentum and follow-through often take care of themselves.

Being proactive means investing in your future.

If you aren’t 100% happy with your life, business or career, there’s always the potential for something even greater.

And that future can be yours, if you’re willing to invest in it.

This week make a new start.

Be disciplined. Be proactive. (note to self).