Coach's Corner

Proactivity versus Reactivity

Proactivity – the fact or condition of being responsible for actions, statements, and performance.

Between our daily chores and general self-care, it’s sometimes hard to believe we could be anything but forward-thinking. Occasionally, we catch ourselves struggling through our difficulties and taking a step back, wanting desperately to find a resolve, while other times, we find ourselves diverting our attention away from what we can do. That avoidance is a lack of accountability that tends to trigger our minds to become negative and blame-shifting. It can get the best of us, but we are the only ones that can determine how often it does.

Proactivity is the condition of being responsible for anything and everything. From your relationships to your knowledge base, work advancement to the appreciation for life, success to happiness. Studies show that the more proactive a person is, the more likely they are to experience career success, psychological well-being, better routine performance, improved relationships, and overall happiness. A lack of proactivity, often referred to as a state of reactivity, leads to increased paranoia, consistent denial, decreased strength in relationships, poorer work product, and the need to fill constant voids.

To determine your proactivity level, take the following quiz:


Grab a pen and paper, or open a note file on your phone. As you read through the ten categories below, jot down the letter corresponding to the statement that represents you most. If some seem similar or you get stuck between two, choose the one with the most commonalities with your thinking.

  1. Preparation:
    1. I plan things like vacations, trips to the doctor, meetings, and grocery lists well ahead of time.
    2. I often pivot efficiently as situations arise because I trust myself to handle all situations.
    3. I prefer planning some things and going with the flow on others. Life should be a mix.
  2. Problem-Solving:
    1. I can issue-spot so well that I’m rarely surprised when life, work, and relationship problems arise. I tend to already have the solutions beforehand without needing much thought about them at the time.
    2. I trust in my ability to identify problems as they arise. I’m quick-acting when I need to be and thoughtful when I should be.
    3. I know big problems I encounter require a deeper level of thought, so I spend time thinking things through before I act on them. The easy problems are a breeze to handle.
  3. Decisiveness:
    1. I think about my goal when making decisions, so I’m never diverted from achieving it.
    2. I keep my decisions focused on the demands of the situation because I’m focused on adaptivity.
    3. I know when I can procrastinate and when I have to act because I can preemptively see the outcomes of my choices well enough.
  4. Learning Process:
    1. I’m often reading on new topics, signing up for webinars/courses, and exploring ways to improve at what I already do regularly. From recipes to work to relationships to life, I always acknowledge I have more to learn.
    2. I am generally open to new learning opportunities when they arise and don’t mind listening when I hear essential topics being discussed. I often click on articles or videos I see on social media that interest me and sometimes go into “research rabbit holes” once I hear about something that interests me.
    3. I love being flexible in learning through experiences. It’s my primary mode of learning because life is all about the experiences you encounter daily.
  5. Transition Cycles:
    1. When things change, I quickly think about the opportunities it brings and how I can use the change to my advantage. Change is, more than often, good.
    2. Change usually means I have to adjust to something new, and I think about how it will alter the routine I’m used to. This doesn’t mean I won’t accept it; I just know it might take me a bit out of my comfort zone.
    3. I always understand that change happens and am usually pensive about how it will affect me. Sometimes it will be for the better, and sometimes for the worse. I need to weigh the pros and the cons before determining how I feel about it.
  6. Communication:
    1. I am communicative all the time. I let others know what actions I’ll be taking before I take them so that they can feel they’re in it with me. I also take the time to talk through obstacles and barriers with everyone involved in my work and life. There’s nothing like a good meeting where everyone is authentically on the same page, so I always think of ways to ensure they are.
    2. I trust people to be empowered to ask questions when necessary. I know that if I constantly need to explain my actions, I’ll never get anything done. I’m approachable, and everyone sees me as that, so I don’t mind having deep conversations when they’re prompted. I love getting things done and seeing everyone support where I’m going.
    3. I generally need to switch how I talk to everyone as they approach me with questions about my actions because not everyone knows the same information I have. Sometimes, that takes up extra time and makes things better, but I don’t shy away from any of the conversations I know I need to have.
  7. Stress Management:
    1. It’s pretty tough for anyone to see if I’m stressed because I know I manage it well. I work through problems and difficulties because I know I can get through them quickly. I’m very mindful and consistently stay in a growth mindset.
    2. I get in my head when situations arise, and the stress can sometimes be a little visible. I use stressful situations as lessons, whether or not I acknowledge them in the moment. Ultimately, I’ve gotten through my most challenging days. Sometimes, I need a reminder of that.
    3. Stress and I are in a consistently shifting relationship. Some days, I can tackle problems, but others, I get frustrated about them. Handling stress is part of life; with all its ups and downs, I just need to see what each day brings.
  8. Morning Routine:
    1. I wake up and know exactly what I need to do. If it’s a workout, I know how I’m training; if it’s breakfast, I know what I’m cooking; or if it’s some personal reflection time, I’ve got my quiet space ready. It helps to set the tone for each day so I can confidently tackle it.
    2. Each morning brings whatever it brings. Some days, I don’t want to get out of bed; others, I can spring up. Sometimes, I’ll skip breakfast; other times, I’ll cook or grab something locally. I have a routine that I loosely follow, and I make sure I do things like brush my teeth, shower, and make the bed.
    3. Good morning, social media! I wake up, stretch in bed, wonder who invented the nine-to-five workday, and see who posted what on my social apps. I get myself up and going. Sometimes, I’ll see what show is on TV and use it as background noise, and other times, I’ll stick to staying in bed until the last possible second. I like feeling in control of my mornings this way. I’m in the moment.
  9. Conflict Resolution:
    1. I’m not immune to fighting with peers or strongly disagreeing, but it never gets the best of me because I’m always looking for solutions and keeping positive relationships going. Everyone knows that about me.
    2. Let’s go! I’ll stand up for my personal opinions and defend them! Others might not always see it as healthy conversation, but if we’re getting intense, we both care about the topic. Everything can be fixed with time, so why not go through the intensity?
    3. Conflicts tend to put me in a state of silence or internal anger. I get in my head often, and sometimes, I even think about what I could have said later. This is because I replay it in my head a lot. In fairness, the stuff I should have said always makes so much sense!
  10. Personal Wellness:
    1. I always slot time in for routine checkups, exercise, vacation, and rest. I acknowledge that life has a lot of responsibilities, but that’s why I consistently make time for myself.
    2. When I can, I take care of myself. It’s not always a top priority, but self-care happens from time to time.
    3. I rarely make time for myself because I have many responsibilities and care for many things and people. That doesn’t mean I don’t have fun. My self-care is time with friends, TV shows/movies, and grabbing food at a restaurant whenever possible.


Go through your choices. For every “a,” give yourself five points. For every “b,” give yourself three points. For every “c,” give yourself one point. Tally up your score and use the following guide to determine what your results mean:

  • 10 to 19
    Resultingly Reactive. You’re holding yourself back, but know you can do more. Sometimes, you’ll fall into a state of saying you “go with the flow,” and while that isn’t always a bad thing, it might slow you down for some things, like work. Don’t worry about needing to change everything around. Instead, examine if there’s anything you want to achieve and ask yourself what the next step to get towards that goal would be. Engage in conversations about it with your support system, including close friends, family, and a Coach. Believe in yourself and lean on those who believe in you for accountability!

  • 20 to 24
    Readily Reactive. You get in your head a lot and slow yourself down as a result. Confidence and communication are the two things you need to improve the most, but you sometimes convince yourself it will take a lot of work to achieve perfection. Get out of that mindset. Perfection doesn’t exist. Instead, focus on getting yourself to your next stage of proactivity by picking one topic listed above and trying to improve.

  • 25 to 34
    Reactively Proactive. You can trigger yourself to be highly productive and proactive when you need to be, but emotions might sometimes get the best of you. Lessons aren’t challenging for you to uncover when you need to, and you’ll eventually make the time to get on the right track, but it isn’t without some procrastination. Look back at the quiz and see how you can move your mindset to focus on the “a” answers more than the other results.

  • 35 to 39
    Primarily Proactive. Your attention to detail is strong, and your desire to achieve is solid, but be wary that you sometimes get over-confident about yourself. Create a weekly time to reflect on your recent struggles and strengths. Consider what you want to improve from that list and how to use the strengths to fortify them.

  • 40 to 50
    Proactivity Powerhouse! You’re in a growth mindset and are keeping yourself going! You focus
    on the things that make a change. Take a look at the categories you struggled with answering most. That’s the key to your next phase of growth! Remember that your definition of success needs to be clearly defined, so take the time to restate your goals often.

Remember that the score above represents a moment in time and that being proactive is a mindset. It’s about holding yourself accountable but never needing to be constantly on the go. Staying in the “now” for proactivity also means being able to describe what phase of the growth process you’re in. Whichever score you wound up with above, consider a deeper conversation on reaching your next level and think about finding the balance that makes the most sense for you.

As you move into the end of the year, you’ll likely be in a highly reflective state that will eventually turn into a desire to bring about positive change towards the first few months of the new year. What does growth mean to you? How can you be more proactive about that growth? What does it mean to you to achieve the goals you set? Why are they important to you? Most critically, how can you start acting on achieving your goals? It’s all about staying accountable to yourself by having a growth-focused, proactive mindset!

If you don’t like something in your life right now, imagine how proud of yourself you’ll be twelve months from now when you look back and see how you worked towards turning it around!

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