I am almost consumed with how 𝐇𝐀𝐑𝐃 we make most 𝐒𝐈𝐌𝐏𝐋𝐄 things in life.
Let’s look at some examples: I want to lose weight” – 𝐈𝐍 𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐎𝐑𝐘, very simple for most. If you want to lose weight, eat less bad food and move more – 𝐈𝐍 𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐎𝐑𝐘. Would work for probably 90% of people. But, also for most, our willpower for bad food is weak, and our weakness is strong (Patton Oswald).
How about another common desire? “I want more money.” This is another one that we complicate. Do you want to 𝐄𝐀𝐑𝐍 more money or 𝐇𝐀𝐕𝐄 more money? Most people want to HAVE more money and think that need to 𝐄𝐀𝐑𝐍 more money to accomplish this however, for the majority of people who want this if you would just 𝐒𝐏𝐄𝐍𝐃 less money, you would 𝐇𝐀𝐕𝐄 more money. Plus, if you don’t change your spending habits, no matter how much you earn, you will never have more money.
My favorite one of all though, is “I want more out of life” or “I want to be happier.” This is another issue at the end of the day is 𝐈𝐍 𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐎𝐑𝐘, is very easy to have. The concept is simple! It comes down to 𝐌𝐈𝐍𝐃𝐒𝐄𝐓. If if you just concentrate on your 𝐓𝐇𝐎𝐔𝐆𝐇𝐓𝐒 and 𝐓𝐇𝐈𝐍𝐊 the very opposite of the way you have for most of your life, you will have a happier, healthier life. Because your thoughts become your words and your words become your actions. But alas…. long-standing habits are hard to change – especially when these changes lead to separating us from those around you and probably most of the things that you watch and listen to as well.
“They say” that the Proactive Mindset involves being aware of what you want out of life and knowing the kinds of behaviors that are important to get you there. That it promotes the ability to recognize the things that you can control and the things that you cannot control. Btw, I discuss this subject in detail in “The Circle of Control, Circle of Influence” so please check that article out as well if you want to learn more about that.
I will tell you that not all mindsets are created equally. Some folks are just naturally more “one way or the other” but that in no way means that this cannot be changed. We first need to identify which way you think, and we’re going to cover how to transition yourself into a Proactive Mindset if you are relatively more Reactive in your Mindset currently.
I had a Reactive Mindset for the first 20 years of my life. My environment, especially my early childhood environment, the way I was raised, was a very toxic. It wasn’t that I was directly threatened or attacked daily, but my house “had a lot of traffic”. We were the fun house on the block. On a scale of “FULL HOUSE” (being 1) to Showtimes’ SHAMELESS (being 10), we lived at a solid 8. There was not much accountability or call for responsibility growing up.
I found that when you have low self-esteem, you actually protect it. When you’re afraid of people telling you ‘I told you so’ you end up not wanting to take on any risk. You develop a proclivity to just play it safe and settle for being told what to do, so when you do it the way you’re told and something goes wrong, it’s not your fault. And that’s very Reactive in nature, and you can get into the habit of that very easily.
But when you don’t look to others for your happiness or approval, it’s just in you, and becoming Proactive becomes innate, natural. You start taking on more responsibility. You get comfortable further out on limbs that can break. You even think… let’s see how big can I fail. Because when you don’t fail you cannot grow or experience real success. Failing allows you to take baby steps towards winning. Speaker Willie Jolly says, “𝐀 𝐒𝐄𝐓𝐁𝐀𝐂𝐊 𝐈𝐒 𝐀 𝐒𝐄𝐓 𝐔𝐏 𝐅𝐎𝐑 𝐒𝐔𝐂𝐂𝐄𝐒𝐒!” I say, when you fail, you learn and it hurts, but you learn from it.
I never was conscious of this fact – that I could just choose happiness. But I experienced a massive Mindset Shift when I was 20 years old. I had been out on my own for about 3 years by then, and I had new people in my life. I also had a very interesting phone call where 7 little words changed my life forever, which I will not get into here – that is a story for another article… But those words flipped a switch in my head and that made me switch my mind, and I went from being reactive to Proactive, practically overnight.
This new Mindset was now, just kind of automatic or natural for me because I never read anything about this stuff beforehand. I was just basically a kid living in an efficiency back then making minimum wage, about $5.00 an hour. I wasn’t homeless by then, but still, damn near. I was standing on my own two feet, but financially, these were very tight days. I didn’t graduate from high school or go to college, but I started thinking very differently.
Because of this new outlook and by changing the way I perceived my future, I started getting opportunities. I failed by trying new things so often, that I actually perfected the art of failing up. And what I mean by that is even my biggest failure, which was 2009, when I lost just about everything, I still hadn’t lost control. Sure, I lost my construction company, I lost my employees, I lost all my money, I even lost my house and my fiancé. I lost everything in life except for Control. Control of my attitude, control of the way I acted in front of my children, control of my ego. I knew that even with so much loss, I had it all TO LOSE, to begin with! Which meant that if I did it once I can do it again! That Setback was my setup for one of the greatest comebacks in my family’s history! If it wasn’t for the proactive mindset, I have never would’ve gotten the chance for the comeback. I knew that I had to take this colossal failure and appreciate it. That did not happen overnight. In fact, it took about two years! But I considered it a new beginning. I just got up every day and took some form of positive action. I still have periods when that reactive mindset sneaks back in and rears its ugly head, so it is a duty to keep my mind on my thoughts because your thoughts become your words and your words become your actions.
One of the things that got me through this tough time, was that I leaned on what I had learned over the years. I had seen the results, I had the wins, and I knew that any money that I spent on making myself better, would come back to me 10x. 50x, 100x, if I put the lessons into action. So even though I was 𝐁𝐑𝐎𝐊𝐄, I had to invest in myself! Since I didn’t go to college, I call this my 𝐊𝐍𝐎𝐖𝐋𝐄𝐃𝐆𝐄 𝐄𝐃𝐔𝐂𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍, and I have invested more money over the years on my knowledge education, than if I would have attended and graduated from Notre Dame!
Over my 50 years on this planet, I have acquired various professional certificates and licenses, taken a lot of courses and seminars, attended Tony Robbins events, and sought out specific mentorships. I’ve paid for these professionals who were where I wanted to be. And I’ve learned so much more by actually 𝐑𝐄𝐀𝐃𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐁𝐎𝐎𝐊𝐒… Books like Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, who covers most of this subject, and it’s literally his rule number one in that very book. So there’s a lot of science behind what I’m saying here, but I’m telling it to you my way because this is what happened to me. This is what got me to the next level, and the next, and the next.
So if being reactive means that you don’t have to take risks and means that you put forth less effort. It means you don’t have to deal with things like the responsibility of failure. Unfortunately, it also means that you won’t be able to deal with the responsibility of success either. And so that’s a, a big negative trade-off there. Because those little successes all come with feelings of accomplishment, higher self-worth, and a general happier existence, a happier outlook, a healthier outlook. So one way to know that you’ve chosen a proactive mind is when you look at the way you move. I like to compare that movement to a shark because sharks don’t ever stop moving.
They’re constantly moving. This consistency is the key to success. It’s like the adage “a body in motion tends to stay in motion while a body at rest tends to stay at rest.” That’s the mentality I developed over time. So, let me ask you first off, let’s decide, do you have a job or do you have a trade? And if you don’t know, then you need to stop what you’re doing and examine what you’re, where you’re going with your life. Start with the end in mind. Think of a goal, large or small, and work backward on what actions will lead to fulfilling that goal. I am going to get into “𝐁𝐄𝐆𝐈𝐍𝐍𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐖𝐈𝐓𝐇 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐄𝐍𝐃 𝐈𝐍 𝐌𝐈𝐍𝐃” in another little article, but you need to do that.
You need to figure out what you want in your life, and if you don’t know yet what that is, then you got to do what Tony Robin says, 𝐌𝐀𝐊𝐄 𝐘𝐎𝐔𝐑 𝐌𝐎𝐕𝐄! Try new and different things. Figure out what you want. But here are some things that can get you started on your proactive mindset.
1) How about learning about your profession on your own time after hours, some call it continuous learning.
2) You can get up early in the morning and plan your day and organize your thoughts before anyone else gets up.
3) You can exercise regularly, just 20 minutes. You don’t need any weights. You don’t need a gym and you should probably do that every single day of your life. It’s very healthy for you.
4) You can count your blessings. It’s called a gratitude list. I do it every night. Sometimes I do it in my mind, sometimes I do it in a book or on my phone in One Note.
5) You can read every single day don’t care what it is if it’s not social media, that doesn’t count. Remember, not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.
6) Communication about your career path with your boss by asking them what you could do to improve your chances for promotion.
So here are some knee-jerk responses that you should listen for, to find out and identify which camp you’re in. Do you say this or that? (Read chapter one, page 65 to 78 or so of seven habits by Stephen Covey.)
· Do you say there’s nothing I can do or do you say let’s look at our alternatives”?
· That’s just the way I am or I can choose a different approach?
· He/she/they make me so mad when only 𝐘𝐎𝐔 can control your own feelings. Gandhi said it best, “nobody can hurt your feelings. You have to give them permission.”
· This is one of my favorites: “I have to” is gone forever for me.
· I have to becomes 𝐈 𝐆𝐄𝐓 𝐓𝐎 or I choose to.
· I must becomes I get to or I choose to.
· I can’t becomes I choose not to. Because 𝐀𝐍𝐘𝐎𝐍𝐄 𝐂𝐀𝐍 do just about 𝐀𝐍𝐘𝐓𝐇𝐈𝐍𝐆 if they put their mind and time to it.
So it’s a different way of looking at things. Things that you know are going to suck become easier as well because you trust that you’re going to learn something from it. You’re supposed to be doing it for a reason.
The last one I will touch on is “𝐈𝐅 𝐎𝐍𝐋𝐘”
· If only I had a better job.
· If only I had stayed in school.
· If only I had better role models.
· If only I was in better shape.
“If only” becomes “𝐈 𝐖𝐈𝐋𝐋”
· If only I had a better job becomes 𝐈 𝐖𝐈𝐋𝐋 have a better job.
· If only I had stayed in school becomes 𝐈 𝐖𝐈𝐋𝐋 educate myself on what I want to be or do.
· If only I had better role models becomes 𝐈 𝐖𝐈𝐋𝐋 surround myself with positive people and those who have done what I want to do or are where I want to be in life.
· If only I was in better shape becomes 𝐈 𝐖𝐈𝐋𝐋 change my diet and exercise to be in the best shape possible to have the energy I will need to explode on my future goals!
None of these things can be done though, for the sole purpose of “making more money” or to get somebody’s attention. If you do these just for money or for attention, it won’t work. It needs to be organic. It needs to be sincere. It must be done only because you prefer moving to sitting and putting yourself out there and risk stumbling, perhaps falling and failing, most likely failing a lot. I suggest failing often early and often because you will never learn anything from just sitting or just winning. “𝑇𝘩𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑐𝑎𝑛 𝑏𝑒 𝑛𝑜 𝑓𝑙𝑜𝑤𝑒𝑟𝑠, 𝑜𝑟 𝑡𝑟𝑒𝑒𝑠, 𝑜𝑟 𝑔𝑟𝑎𝑠𝑠 𝑤𝑖𝑡𝘩𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑡𝘩𝑒 𝑟𝑎𝑖𝑛. 𝑊𝑖𝑡𝘩𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑡𝘩𝑒 𝑟𝑎𝑖𝑛, 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑤𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 𝑛𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑖𝑎𝑡𝑒 𝑡𝘩𝑒 𝑠𝑢𝑛 𝑜𝑛 𝑦𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑓𝑎𝑐𝑒. “- 𝑈𝑛𝑘𝑛𝑜𝑤𝑛