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The Main Important Reasons to Be Proactive

Proactive people don't allow others, the environment or their circumstances to dictate how they think and behave. They navigate their lives from the inside out. So says Stephen Covey in his runaway bestseller, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." On, in reference to the first habit listed in his book, "Be Proactive," Covey reminds readers that "every situation provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results."

Exercise Influence

Covey identifies proactive people as those who focus on improving areas over which they have direct control, such as their attitudes and behaviors, and recognizing matters over which they have little or no control and refusing to worry about them. By focusing on those things you can actually do something about, you increase your ability to influence other people, the environment and your circumstances says Covey. On the other hand, if you zero in on what you can't control and constantly complain about other people and your predicament, you decrease your area of influence.

Affect Change

Similarly, Buddhist leader Daisaku Ikeda speaks of the importance of proactively facing your challenges instead of blaming others or the environment. He says "Change begins from the moment you muster the courage to act. When you change, the environment will change." According to Ikeda, ultimately, not only do you possess the inner power to change your personal situation, but because of the interconnectedness of all life and environments, when you change, you can change the entire world.


A study by Stephanie Jean Sohl and Anne Moyer of Stony Brook University published in the July 1, 2009 issue of "Personality and Individual Differences" found that people who plan for a better future and take steps to bring their plans to fruition feel happier. Conversely, people obsessed with preventing something bad from happening, instead of focusing on making something good happen, tend to feel less happy.

Higher Productivity

In the August 2009 issue of the "Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies," researchers Megan Gerhardt, Bryan Ashenbaum, and W. Rocky Newman conclude that when proactive employees are allowed to set their own goals, manage their own time and environments, and regulate themselves, they perform more productively. The authors recognize that proactive skills can be taught to those who don't naturally possess them. However, they recommend that employees who already possess these skills be allowed to use them to the fullest for the benefit of the entire organization.

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