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Proactive or Reactive? What Works Best in Business Works Best for Your Life!

We all know that in business it is much better to be proactive than reactive. Whether we are talking about adapting to a changing market, staying ahead of competitors, delighting customers, creating products, offering up valuable services, or improving processes, it is best to anticipate what might happen and act accordingly. The best in business know this and constantly strive to be as proactive as possible. We will always encounter the need to be reactive at some point, but we quickly realize what a drain it is on resources and human capital!

This is why I am surprised to find how many high-performing business people seem to take the reactive approach when it comes to other aspects of their lives, such as health (especially eating and exercise), relationships, finances, and stress management.

Isn’t it easier to prevent weight gain than to reach a point that you have to lose a ton of weight? But people will justify eating poorly: I’m still young, I’m not overweight, my cholesterol is fine, I know I can easily lose the weight if I ever need to, etc. Imagine that we ran the business like this...engage in bad business habits because the metrics are being met and waiting until they tank to do something about them!

The same thing goes for physical activity and exercise...I hear people say that they move from their chairs when they’re stiff, when their legs fall asleep, or when they’re sleepy! Instead of moving throughout the day to prevent these symptoms, they use them as their trigger to finally do something. In business, actions are taken in order to prevent ‘symptoms’ or bad outcomes and doing something about a problem once it is there is always much more work. It is easier to stay fit if you are already in good shape instead of trying to get fit starting from zero. Stretching on a regular basis when limber is better than waiting to stretch when you can no longer touch your toes or scratch your own back!

It is less work to maintain a strong relationship than to fix a broken one. It is better to manage a budget than to have to dig yourself out of debt while still sticking to a budget. Or save for retirement early rather than to try to scramble once you retire. It is more effective to prevent stress than to deal with it once it has taken a toll. These are simple, obvious examples. However, it is easy to lose sight of the need to take action now to avoid the reaction later.

And perhaps there are businesses out there that function in a more reactive fashion because it works for them for now, but what happens when it stops working? A business can only get away with poor customer service, a mediocre product, a lack of good leadership, or an unhealthy culture for a period of time, but at some point it becomes the pain point or limiting factor that prevents long-term success. And the same can happen to us in our own lives!

A business has a choice when it comes to functioning in a more proactive or reactive way and so do all of us. Here are a few questions to consider: What is important enough to you in your life that you are willing to proactively invest in it in order to stay ahead of the game? What are you currently neglecting that could cause you to become reactive in the future and possibly interfere with long-term success?

Don’t leave it up to chance and hope that it all works out! Use what you know works best in business and apply it to your own life! Take proactive action in the areas of your life that matter most to you for the best outcomes possible!

Feel free to comment and let us know what you will be more proactive about in your life!

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