Are you in control of your life, or are you just letting life pass you by? Are you living intentionally, or living unintentionally? Does life happen for you, or does life happen to you?
One of the most effective ways to take control of your life is through intentional living and proactive behavior.
I try to practice 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.
Instead of reacting to situations, I prefer to wake up and try to do what I want to do with my life.
Doesn’t it feel good to set your own schedule and do what matters to you, instead of following someone else’s schedule and dreams?
Luckily, becoming more intentional and forward thinking in your behavior and actions isn’t too difficult.
In this post, I will share some tips on how you can take control of your life through intentional actions, and using proactive behavior.
First, let’s talk about intentional living.
“You have complete control over the direction that the rest of your life takes.” – Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge
What is Intentional Living and Why Living Intentionally is Important
Before talking about proactive behavior, let’s talk about intentional living.
What is intentional living?
Intentional living is living your life in a way you have consciously decided to live it.
Living intentionally involves coming up with dreams, goals and a plan, and living out that plan. In addition, these plans and goals are usually informed by your values and beliefs.
Put simply, intentional living is living the kind of life that is meaningful to you, and makes you feel like every day matters.
Unintentional living is the opposite of intentional living.
Unintentional living is going through life without a plan, letting life happen to you, and not taking control of your situation.
Days, weeks and months can pass by if you don’t live intentionally, and this is where proactive behavior comes in.
What is the Difference between Proactive and Reactive Behavior?
What is proactive 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. Proactive people practice intentional living.
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.
Why are some people reactive in their behavior? What would happen if they changed started practicing 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
People who are successful in life are proactive and make things happen.
Proactive behavior helps you take control of your life by making intentional choices about what you want your life to look like, and following through with your behavior to make that life vision a reality.
Not only does this lead to a positive end result, but it encourages personal growth along the way as you navigate and problem-solve.
Saving Money is an Example of Proactive Behavior and Intentional Living
For this website, my goal is to help others reach their full potential and live the life they want and deserve.
Part of living life to the fullest is having a handle on your personal finances.
Only 39% of people have $1,000 saved up in the United States. With $1,000 or more in the bank, the stress of an immediate emergency decreases.
A Stressful Time Caused by Reactive Behavior
A few years ago, I was house hacking and had 2 roommates.
One of them was a great guy but was very reactive in his nature. He is someone who loves to get out in the world and do things with his time and money.
Being a part of a few different sports teams and going out on the weekends, I didn’t know the exact nature of his finances, but given his struggles to pay me on time for monthly rent, I could tell he was paycheck to paycheck.
At the time, he had a decent job, and from a simple Google search, was probably in the $40,000 salary range.
With this sort of salary, I would have hoped with a $700 monthly rent payment, he could not be living paycheck to paycheck, but after some bad luck, it was a certainty.
During the Spring, playing kickball, he ended up breaking his hand and with this must have came a significant hospital bill.
“I’ll pay you the 10th after I get paid.”
I wasn’t going to kick him out for being late, but I had a lot of thoughts on the situation.
Saving Money is Possible Through Intentional Actions
Make no mistake, bad luck happens to the best of us.
At the same time, with planning and proactive behavior, what if he had $1,000 saved up to help deal some of his expenses?
As a single and employed Millennial, saving $83 a month for 12 months is certainly doable to get to $1,000.
Double that saving from $83 to $166, and in 12 months, you are approaching $2,000 in savings.
This is just one example of how proactive behavior and intentional living will lead to success.
Let’s think a little bigger now, talk about questions and your dream life, and discuss about how you can apply the practice of proactive behavior in your life for success.
“Try not to become a person of success, but a person of value.” – Albert Einstein
Two Questions to Answer for Creating Your Dream Life
First, a principle: without questions, there are no answers.
Figuring out your dream life or my dream life can’t be solved without breaking it down into smaller questions which get at the core of who you are, how you enjoy your time, and what you like to do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
I believe there are two question sets which will get you started towards creating your dream life. The first part of the two sets of questions is:
When are you most happiest and what are you doing when you are experiencing this joy?
This is a simple question. When do you feel happiest? What activity or thing are you doing which brings the happiness?
For me, happiness comes from creation and helping others. I love creating content, building things, and solving problems. If life was a huge puzzle, I’d love it (which it kind of is, but the pieces are constantly changing 🙂 )
Happiness also comes from doing things on my own terms and having the freedom to create what I want when I want.
The second part of this set of questions is:
How often are you able to do these activities, and what’s holding you back from experiencing them whenever you’d like?
If you are already doing what makes you happy all the time (from the first question), then the second question doesn’t really make sense.
In my opinion, life is all about pushing towards doing what makes you happiest and understanding that while today might not be where you want to be, over time you can get there.
In my situation, I don’t have the level of savings and/or passive income to be helping others and creating what I want, when I want.
At this point in my life, I go to a corporate job at 8 AM and leave after 5 PM. While I’m making great money, there’s still an entrepreneurial itch which is always in the back of my head.
Currently, I’m working on building up my savings with the intent to move to something more flexible in the next year or two. We will see, but it’s a work in progress and that’s okay.
Things can change and I’m going to stay patient. I can influence this through my actions, but whatever happens is meant to happen and should be accepted.
Over time, I’ll get to where I want and need to be, and I hope you will as well.
Now that you have these thoughts in your head, below are 5 concrete steps for you to take control of your life and live intentionally.
5 Steps to Take Control of Your Life
When beginning to think ahead about your life, your family, your job, your business, etc., we first need to start with questions and goals.
First, let’s identify what you want with your life.
We both only have one life and limited time. In my life, I want to be doing things I enjoy and that are bringing joy to the people around me.
After understanding your goals and dreams, then it’s time to come up with a game plan, and take bold action.
Here are 5 steps for intentional living taking control of your life through proactive behavior:
1. Identify Your Goals and Dreams
What are your goals? What makes you happiest? Where do you want to be in 1 year?
As we discussed in the last section, there is a lot that goes into answering these difficult questions.
However, with a picture of what you want, you can start to work towards your dream life and ideal situation.
Split your goals, thoughts, and dreams into multiple buckets:
Some example questions for you may be:
- Do you want to get a promotion or change in responsibilities at work?
- Would you want more money in the bank?
- Are you looking to retire earlier than 65?
- Would you be happy if your business made an extra $1,000 a month?
- Do you want to be able to take more vacations with your family?
- Are you looking to start a new hobby?
- What things stress you out?
- Do you want to lose 10 pounds?
After asking yourself these questions, KEEP GOING! Let your powerful brain do some more work!
After getting some answers to the questions which matter to your situation, now it’s time to work backwards.
2. Create a Happiness Game Plan
You know your goals, now it’s time to come up with a game plan.
You have your dream. What do you have to do to MAKE it happen?
Let’s take the example of losing 10 pounds.
If you want to lose 10 pounds, it’s time for more questions. Let’s see how this line of thinking plays out:
- How is a person’s weight determined?
- A person’s weight is determined through a number of factors, but changes come from daily habits and a simple equation: calories in minus calories out.
- If weight changes come from calories in minus calories out, then how do I decrease this amount for myself?
- First, what does this equation look like for you today? What gets measured, gets managed!
- After measuring where you are at on a daily basis, are you in a calorie surplus or calorie deficit?
- To lose weight, how can you decrease the surplus and increase this deficit in a healthy way? (exercise, diet, fasting, etc.)
After you’ve asked and answered these questions for yourself (and there are probably 3+ more levels to go if you want to go that deep), again KEEP GOING!
Let your powerful brain and body work towards your goals and dreams!
After coming up with your game plan for success and happiness, it’s now time to take ACTION.
3. Be Intentional in Life and 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.
Intentional living is all about taking action and working on bettering your life situation.
Sitting on the couch and watching Netflix is fun and relaxing, but it probably won’t lead to a very fulfilling life.
Taking action involves getting out and into the world.
Start today with your actions and live intentionally. You’ll be pleased as you start to see your dream life come to fruition.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao-Tzu
“An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
4. Be Consistent With Your Actions
Humans overestimate what they can do in a day, but underestimate what they can do in a year.
Have you ever started on your goals only to stop? Did you end up reaching your goal?
Each day, if you can spend at least 10 minutes working towards your goals, you’ll be amazed at your progress.
At the end of one year, you will have spent 3650 minutes, or 60 hours.
60 hours over a year? How much closer to your goals would you be after 60 hours?
That’s the power of consistency. Consistent actions over time WILL lead to massive success.
5. Reassessing and Tweaking Your Game Plan Over Time
From time to time, you will need to see if you are still on track.
I stay accountable to myself monthly. You can do a personal check-in 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.
It’s okay if you realize you aren’t on track; this doesn’t mean you failed.
All this setback means is you now have the opportunity to pick back up where you left off and keep getting better!
Just because you eat one unhealthy meal doesn’t mean your whole healthy eating plan is ruined. It just means you ate one unhealthy meal. You can always continue eating healthy for your next meal, and it will in fact be beneficial.
This outlook works for every part of life.
Being self aware on your path to the life you want and deserve will help tremendously.
Living an intentional life requires patience and understanding, and also will require some flexibility.
The life you want won’t happen in a day, but over time, through tweaks and consistency, you’ll get there. 🙂
Welcome Success by Becoming Proactive and Living Intentionally
You have the keys to your life. It is up to you to unlock your full potential and lead a great life. Through proactive behavior, you can take control of your life and create the success you crave.
Planning, strategy, or thinking ahead are examples of proactive behavior, and with these thoughts, you will become more successful than the day before.
Things take time and a level of patience will be required. At the end of the day, through proactive behavior and having a plan, you will be where you are supposed to be in the next few months.
Start with your goals and asking questions. Continue asking questions until you’ve formed a plan for the actions which should set you up for success.
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
Readers: 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?