“Opportunities are rarely offered, they are seized” -Sheryl Sandberg
Life is meant to be lived. To learn. To grow. To serve.
We cannot be passive during our lives. We cannot wait for “things” to happen to us.
I love the man who said this quote. He was a great example of living life in a proactive fashion.
Proactivity really is the opposite of passivity. As my greatest mentor, Dr. Stephen Covey, has said:
“If you’re proactive, you don’t have to wait for circumstances or other people to create perspective expanding experiences. You can consciously create your own.”
It is vitally important that we take active ownership over our destiny. That we seek out the opportunities we desire. That when we find them, we don’t shrink back into negative self-talk (“I’ll fail at that, I’m not going to try” or “I’m not the person they’re looking for, I don’t want to embarrass myself” etc). we GO for them.
In Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, she says “when I felt like I was not capable of doing something I’d remind myself that I did not fail all of my exams in college. Or even one. I learned to undistort the distorted.” In other words, many times we have created an image of who we are in our minds that is false. Or we choose to live from a fear mindset instead of one of courage and faith. Once we recognize what mindset we have, we can change it!
Through my research, I have distilled down the following 5 ways to be proactive with your destiny, take life by the horns and stop letting life pass you by:
- Evaluate Where and WHO You Are
- When you’re planning a road trip, you always have a starting destination. When you’re putting together a piece of IKEA furniture (bane of my existence) you always have to start with step 1. When you’re being proactive with your destiny, you need to begin with acknowledging where you are currently. This means writing down (yes, writing) how you feel during your daily routines, writing out what your life looks like right now, how much time you spend each day doing things like household chores/email/social media/napping/phone conversations whatever it is, write it down! Also write down how you feel most days. It’s been said by many great thought leaders that you cannot manage what you do not measure. If you do not know where you are currently and WHO you are currently, how will you know if you’ve succeeded in the growth you are trying to attain?
- Visualize, Dream, Mind-Map
- This is my favorite step. I’m a complete nerd when it comes to visualizing, dreaming, mind-mapping, note-taking….you name it. I’ve learned this step is so vital because how are you going to get where you want to go if you don’t KNOW where you want to go? Write it down. Draw it out. Cut out pictures and articles from magazines. Use a tech tool like Evernote (Michael Hyatt has great posts on how to use Evernote if you’re interested) Whatever you do, get it out. Find a way that is fun to you and spend some time doing it!
- Set Goals
- Those who write their goals down accomplish significantly more than those who do not write their goals. Productivity studies show that you really can’t focus on more than 5–7 items at any one time. You should be able to repeat your goals by memory. Make your goals S.M.A.R.T. goals (this acronym is used widely and stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-Bound). Again, WRITE THEM DOWN. Put them someplace where you view them daily. This is very powerful!!! Share your goals with those you know will be committed to helping you achieve them.
- Be Consistent
- Ultimately, success is not about getting everything right. It is about being consistent. Are you consistently and persistently taking steps every day to steadily move toward your goal? Be consistent in what you do. And even though the steps may seem small at the time, doing the right things day in and day out will move you further down the path to success.
- Set Fear Aside
- Each of us has a natural balancing point between safety and risk. Test your limits, you might learn that you are capable of more than you think. This takes courage. Look at the options available to you or the options you would LIKE to be available to you (take that bull by the horns!) and identify the fears and risks you have. Check whether any of your options become more possible and less frightening. Now, still looking at the options, consider a way to engage in one or more activities that seem a bit risky or make you uncomfortable. Go beyond that need for certainty and explore just a bit. If you survive the first time, try it a second time. Then a third. What was hard becomes easy. What was scary begins to feel safe. Fear is all about not knowing what is going to happen. Success is all about embracing uncertainty and learning to feel safe in the process.
The words of others always have a positive and lasting impact on me. The following are some that pertain to the idea of living proactively:
“Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make, makes you” -John C. Maxwell.
“If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves” -Thomas Edison
“Life is a ten-speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use.” -Charles Schulz
To sum all of this up, Hope is not a Strategy for life. In order to live the life we imagine, WE have to create it. WE have to take the bull by the horns. WE have to be proactive. WE have to be brave, courageous and set fear aside. Now go out there an do amazing things.