Many of us want to do things differently in 2014. If you own a business or work in a company it may be time to make changes. Where to start? Before implementing changes, you may consider what you want to be different and think it through to figure out the best way to go about it. Viewing the situation from a positive, proactive view makes a world of difference in attitude and will help you achieve the changes you desire.
One of our all-time favorite books, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People devotes an entire chapter to this subject. The very first habit in the book is called “Be Proactive.” Stephen Covey, the author, talks about a person’s ability to get things done and not accepting excuses such as: “it is always done that way.” Or, “I don’t have the expertise or the ability.” The list of excuses goes on and on and can be self-fulfilling. (Language makes a big difference.) Covey believes, as do we, that a person has the ability to make conscious choices and the imagination and resources to determine how to handle matters … instead of them handling you. We can choose to be a victim or take the matter into our own hands and decide that things will be different in the future.
In the area of productivity, the situations listed below may frustrate you. However, take a look at the suggestions on how to exercise your proactive muscles.
Are you constantly interrupted at work and cannot get enough completed during the day? You take work home most nights (reactive) because it is the only time the phone isn’t ringing and people are not stopping by your office to ask a quick question.
Now let’s go the proactive route.
The phone rings while you are working on an important project? Purposely let it go to voicemail. Or, a colleague pokes her head into your office and asks “Have a minute?”. What a perfect time to get out of your chair and start walking down the hall! Stand-up meetings are notoriously short. You have just avoided an unplanned, possibly time-wasting meeting in your office.
After deliberating and deliberating, you finally decided a few weeks ago to splurge and purchase the newest smart phone model with all of the bells and whistles. Unfortunately, you do not consider yourself tech-saavy and haven’t even taken the item out of the box. It will have to wait until you have more time and can figure out how to use it.
How about this for a possible solution? Invite a friend with the same phone out for lunch– your treat.
You know you need to delegate more so you can maximize your efficiency and finish projects faster but you are not exactly sure what the process entails. It seems easier to do the project yourself.
Possible solution: Sign up for a leadership class, read a book on the subject or consult a colleague who has mastered this skill. Once you become comfortable with delegating, you can concentrate on the projects that will bring you closer to your goals. You’ll be glad that you took action instead of avoiding the situation and continuing to do the same old thing. As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results.
Unfortunately, not every area is within our control but, as Stephen Covey points out, we have more control than we realize. It depends on how we view it. If you are proactive (or are going to make an effort to become more proactive), it will require a conscious choice on your part.
The only way these changes will come about is if you take charge and act on them. Your colleagues may prefer to be reactive and decide to wait until something happens but, if your productivity is going to increase, now is the time to take action.
As you decide to become more proactive, mistakes may happen. That is perfectly acceptable. Try not to dwell on them. Accept the mistake, learn from it, and move on. Be the person in your firm or in your circle of friends who has a positive attitude, is willing to try new ideas and not let mishaps get in the way. You may be amazed at the great leaps in effectiveness you achieve vs. those who are not willing to make the effort.
How about starting small and setting realistic goals that may take a month or two? Once you have tasted success, you will begin to see that your proactive moves are doable. Covey makes the following suggestions to get you on the proactive track:
Listen to your own language and the people around you to pick up on negative and positive thoughts.
Anticipate an experience that will be likely to happen soon and envision yourself responding positively.
Decide if a problem is actionable or if you do not have control over it. If you can solve it, figure out how.
Take the 30 day proactivity test and zero in on the things that will make a positive difference.
Write to us and share what steps you are taking in 2014 to become more proactive. We are eager to hear and available to help.