Being proactive and taking control of your life

I often refer to Stephen Covey in my classes as well as with friends. I even gave my children a copy of his first successful book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” (1) for Christmas this year. I like the simplicity of this book and the way it is divided into seven habits. Stephen Covey brings together the majority of personal development theories in one guide that is easy to follow and understand.

The first habit he recommends is ‘Be proactive’. Being proactive means being aware of two things.

The first one is that between stimulus and response, there is a space. Within this space, we have a choice of how we respond. It’s up to us to be aware that we always make a choice AND accept the consequences of that choice.

Here’s an example. An opportunity arises for you to go and work abroad. You refuse the opportunity. You made a choice. You can explain this choice in two ways:

  • Well, I didn’t really have any choice, I’ve got two teenagers who wouldn’t have been able to cope with the upheaval

  • I took the decision not to accept this offer because I chose to prioritise my family at this stage in my life

In the first response, you’re not taking responsibility for your choice – you’re putting the blame onto your children. In the second response, you are fully aware of what led you to make the decision.

Proactive people accept responsibility for the choices they make.