10:30 PM, last Friday. I had just played 2 softball games and was on the way home. Many things were on my mind: ideas for growing The Mastermind Within, my financial situation, other business ideas, and my plans for the weekend. I try to have proactive behavior in all parts of my life – trying to play catch up is stressful and takes away from getting after my goals and dreams.
I arrived home around 10:45 PM and started chatting with my roommate. He had just finished up the movie Manchester by the Sea and was in a very pensive and introspective mood. I haven’t seen Manchester by the Sea, so here’s a quick summary from IMDB:
An uncle is obliged to return home to care for his nephew after his brother dies. Not knowing that he has been named guardian, he struggles with the decision. Throughout the movie he recounts past memories that caused him to leave Manchester and distance himself from his past.
It was only 10:45 PM. I asked if he was interested in going to the local bar for a drink to chat about his thoughts and life. He obliged; I showered and we headed out.
In this post, I will share my conversation with my roommate, my thoughts and takeaways, and some tips on how to take control of your life by displaying proactive behavior.
“You have complete control over the direction that the rest of your life takes.” – Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge
Are You in Control of Your Life?
After getting to the bar and getting our beers, I asked my roommate to tell me his thoughts after watching the movie. He explained the movie hit him deep and got him thinking about his life goals and plans. In the movie, the main character is depressed because he isn’t in control of his life. The main character struggles with his past experiences and how they lead him to his current state. No wonder why my roommate was in an introspective mood given the movie’s plot.
My Roommate’s Thoughts on His Life
I asked my roommate pointed questions. I figured if my roommate shared his thoughts, I could possibly influence him to be less frustrated and more positive. Here were his thoughts (from his point of view):
You know how when you are 20 or 21, you start thinking about your twenties and how they will unfold? When I was 20, I thought, “Sure, I’ll probably date a girl on and off and around 27/28, I’ll start to get more serious and look to get married.”
Well, I’m 25 right now and I’m not dating anyone. I just think it’s interesting that you can have a vision of your life and it doesn’t always go the way you plan it. I feel there are many things in life that are completely out of my control and I’m frustrated. Like I said, when I was in my early twenties, I thought I’d be in a different place and be achieving the things I thought I’d achieve.
After he shared his thoughts, I asked a few more questions: first, why do you think you aren’t in control of your life? Why don’t things go as planned? We are sitting in a bar, do you want to go talk to any of the girls in here? Here were his thoughts on this set of questions (again from his point of view):
I don’t know exactly why I think I’m not in control of my life. I’m just doing the things I thought I’d be doing and I don’t feel in control. I don’t want to go talk to any of the girls here because that’s not me. The pick-up game just doesn’t appeal to me – I don’t like meaningless small talk and I can’t seem to get to what I want to talk about.
At this point, I was a little bit taken back. I sensed a strong negativity and great displeasure towards his life. One thing in particular I found interesting was how he felt he didn’t have control of any aspect of his life. I was puzzled, but then realized, not everyone is like me – not everyone leads an intentional life.
So, I followed up by saying this:
I don’t really know what to tell you. I do see your point; there are many things we can’t control in life. For me personally, I don’t worry about things I can’t control.
That being said, I realize there are many things I can control, my philosophy, my actions, and how I spend my time. There are so many variables to consider that if I spent time worrying about things I can’t control, then I’d never be able to get anything done. Instead, I focus on my goals and dreams, and work each day to get better.
At this point, I could tell he was still frustrated, so I stopped digging in on his thoughts.
I walked away from this interaction with a bad taste in my mouth. I was a little bit bothered by his negative thoughts and resistance to taking a different view. I’ve lived with the guy for 3 years and see what he does with his time and money. On Saturday night, he went to see a movie with his friends. Afterwards, he went for a drink and got home around 2 AM. I on the other hand was tired from the week and the night before. I read for an hour and went to bed early to prepare for a big Mother’s day. Can you guess who is getting ahead?
I had a few takeaways: why do some people reactive in their behavior? What if they changed to proactive behaviors? Would they take control of their life and achieve wild success?
“Your philosophy creates your attitudes, which create your actions, which create your results, which create your life.” – Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge
Proactive Behavior vs. Reactive Behavior
Proactive behavior involves acting in advance of a future situation, rather than just reacting. It means taking control and making things happen rather than just adjusting to a situation or waiting for something to happen. Proactive people generally do not need to be asked to act, nor do they require detailed instructions.
Reactive behavior involves acting after an event occurs, rather than acting in advance of the event. It means waiting for something to happen, rather than making something happen.
People who are successful in life are proactive and make things happen. Proactive behavior helps you take control of your life.
What I’m Doing in 2017 to Take Control of My Life
Late 2016, I decided 2017 would be a fantastic year. I set a number of goals which have lead to solid growth, self development and have been helping set me up for long-term success. I looked forward a year and said to myself, at the beginning of 2018, I want to be able to say I’ve started a successful blog, I have multiple passive income streams, and I’ve grown tremendously in many different ways.
Each and every morning, I wake up ready to improve. In February, I read The Slight Edge and my life changed. Each day we have 24 hours. If I spend an hour watching TV each day, I will have watched 365 hours of TV at the end of the year. What if I read some personal development material an hour a day? I will be 365 hours better than if I had watched TV.
Proactive Behavior Leads to Success
I have already experienced some great growth. I’ve grown The Mastermind Within to 100+ subscribers and 3,500+ monthly views in 4.5 months. I’ve read 27 books in 2017, and I’ve tracked every dollar of my income and expenses to ensure I’m saving and investing for the future. Staying consistent for the next 7.5 months will keep the ball rolling. By being proactive and continuing to apply forward thinking will allow me to keep getting better and more valuable.
“Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value.” – Albert Einstein
How to Take Control of Your Life
Here are 5 simple steps for taking control of your life:
- Identify your goals and dreams
- Split these goals and dreams into multiple buckets: social, financial, spiritual, physical, emotional, work, fun.
- Ask yourself: where do you want to be in 1 year? In 5 years? In 10 years?
- Do you want to get a promotion at work? Do you want to increase your savings rate? Are you looking to retire early? Do you want more friends? Are you happy with your job? What things stress you out? Do you want to lose 10 pounds?
- Figure out which actions you must take to reach those goals and dreams
- You have your dream, now what do you have to do to make it happen?
- Do you want to retire early? Ask yourself, what’s your savings rate? What is your retirement income goal? Are you currently saving enough to allow yourself to retire at age X?
- Are you looking to get a promotion at work? Who are the key influences of your career? What skills are necessary to be successful at the next level?
- Do you want to lose 10 pounds? What are you eating each day? Are you exercising enough to get your body in a calorie deficit?
- Take action
- It’s great to know what you have to do, but if you never take action, you will never achieve your goals and dreams.
- “A journey of a thousand miles beings with a single step.” – Lao-Tzu
- “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Be consistent with your actions
- Have you ever started on your goals only to stop? Did you end up reaching your goal?
- Each day, spend at least 10 minutes working towards your goals. At the end of one year, you will have spent 3650 minutes, or 60 hours on going for your goal.
- Don’t Quit!
- Reassess to ensure you are on track to reach your goals.
- From time to time, you will need to see if you are still on track.
- I stay accountable to myself monthly. You can do this check weekly, monthly, or every few months. It’s up to you.
- If you aren’t on track, make the necessary changes to your actions and daily habits to ensure you are working towards your goals.
You have the keys to your life. It is up to you to unlock your full potential and lead a great life. Get after it and make sure to update me on your fantastic progress! 🙂
“Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.” – Hal Elrod
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do you take a proactive approach to life? Are you in control of your life? What is stopping you from achieving your goals and dreams?