June 8

Importance of Being Proactive vs. Reactive in Life & Business

Importance of Being Proactive vs. Reactive in Life & Business

By Deborah Johnson

June 8, 2020

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The Difference

What is the difference between proactive vs. reactive and is one more important than the other? I have written about this before (see article here) and most entrepreneurs will say being proactive is more important. I agree, but it’s also important to be reactive. Proactive is creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it happens. Reactive is responding to a situation rather than creating or controlling it.

In my opinion, you need to be both proactive and reactive in today’s world. With so many unknowns with what the future holds, being proactive in implementing new sustainable business courses and programs is imperative. In the same way, how we respond to what is out of our control, or being reactive, is also extremely important. We can choose whether to respond with panic, letting stress take over, or with a calm, intentional commitment to figuring out a solution.

Here, I will outline 3 proactive and 3 reactive responses that are sustainable in most any situation. We will focus on When a Disaster Strikes, When Finances Crumble and When You Need to Pivot.

Women at Halftime by Deborah Johnson Importance of Being Proactive & Reactive in Life & Business 6-9-20
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When a Disaster Strikes: Proactive vs. Reactive

Proactive: Create a Backup Plan. When looking forward, create what you can quickly adapt or morph to work in different situations. The recent virus shut many businesses down overnight and required many to shift to an online platform, which may have previously been totally foreign.

It’s the perfect opportunity to now create a backup plan if you didn’t have one previously. Don’t panic, just think and be creative! Many great ideas and even new inventions come out of times of hardship and change.

Reactive: The restaurants that created a pickup or delivery service had a chance of surviving, especially if they already had a regular clientele base. For those that rely on drive-by or regional seasonal traffic, this is a tough one. Think ahead of how you could survive as well as serve others!

If times of disaster are used as an opportunity, what seems like a tragedy could have a surprisingly successful outcome!  It’s time to react with a proactive plan. Both work together.

When Finances Crumble: Proactive vs. Reactive

Proactive: Follow mom’s advice and save for a rainy day. This is an area where being proactive is the very best choice! But we’ll also discuss ways to be reactive in a healthy way.

To be proactive is to have at least 4 months of income put aside for your business in case of any emergency. Those businesses that did this before the COVID-19 shutdown were able to immediately pivot. Most also cut back to bare-bones on unnecessary expenses, enabling them to further expand in areas that would better serve their clients.

Consistently evaluating your budget is a very wise proactive choice. I find many entrepreneurs are membership poor, with monthly subscriptions amounting in cost, some not even utilized. If you know where the money is going, you can more effectively trim. It is wise to have a good record of what you are spending and what you could cut if needed.

Reactive: To be reactive is to make a choice to survive and even prosper. Either react in a smart way to slash expenses and cut your losses or sit still and panic. I never discount the power of entrepreneurialism with the sheer determination and tenacity of determined individuals to get through hard times. Our forefathers definitely did it, and they lived through a major depression.

Personally, I recently cut one of my monthly subscriptions I hadn’t used in three months. I then wondered why I had held on to it even that long. I’ll rejoin if needed, but I decided to put the funds other places as I’ve recently spent more to produce quality online courses. I think of my dear grandmother who saved tin foil and baggies until the day she died, just in case. When you live through tough times, you learn, regroup and save!

Proactive vs Reactive-Infographic

When You Need to Pivot: Proactive vs. Reactive

Proactive: A pivot is usually a hard turn, one way or the other. This can happen personally or professionally multiple times throughout our lives. To be proactive is to keep a lifelong learning attitude, consistently reading and networking to keep options open for the future, as you know change is always lurking around the next curve.

A healthy and forward-thinking, yet realistic, mindset will help you most. If you’ve been proactive with your finances, you will be in a better position to assertively pivot as you will experience a greater freedom with necessary changes. Also, to be proactive with a pivot is to see change coming and make some of the changes before a huge tidal wave hits.

Reactive: With unexpected turns, you usually need to act quickly, but not too abruptly or rashly as to crash and burn. If you’re truly not prepared for any change, you’ll need to quickly put some sort of plan in place. Your plan will somewhat depend on what freedom you have financially as to the scope of what you can do.

The main principle here is to not panic and use the possibility of a pivot to grow, learn and create positive change. That is a healthy mindset that will carry you through many of life’s challenges.

With Every Challenge

As situations and challenges arise, we often find ourselves reacting, either positively or negatively. Our reactive responses bring proactive action. They truly work together. There will be other disasters. We’ve had hurricanes and floods like Katrina and Harvey. We’ve come through 9-11. And we’ve recently experienced COVID-19.  

Being intentional with a proactive plan will be even more necessary in the coming months and years, but with the flexibility to react in a way that won’t send you in a spiral of panic. It is entirely possible to survive and even thrive. It’s entirely up to you!

If you are interested in growing and learning, check out our online courses here: Online Learning

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Deborah Johnson

About the author

DEBORAH JOHNSON, M.A., creator of Hero Mountain® and former president of Los Angeles National Speakers Association, is an international award-winning music artist, author, speaker and National Media Commentator. She also hosts the popular podcast "Women at Halftime." Deborah provides tools to create your ideal lifestyle and work at mid-career or during the halftime of life, getting unstuck. You can live your second half fulfilled, focused and free! Up for multiple GRAMMY Awards and spending over 20 years in the entertainment industry, she's an expert on how to constantly reinvent yourself in a gig-economy. She is also the recipient of the Women's Economic Forum Exceptional Women of Excellence Award. Deborah is the author of multiple books, over twenty albums and musicals and speaks and performs in both live and virtual events.

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