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The first habit of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to be proactive.  What exactly does being proactive mean?  What are the implications of being proactive?

In life, we generally know what is about to happen, whether we want it to or not. The rent or mortgage payment will always be due on the first day of the month. Christmas comes on December 25 each year. I know that I have to pay my mortgage on time every month, so I set up a recurring payment in advance. That way it’s not so stressful. I do the same thing with my Christmas planning. I am proactive. I deal with planning in advance, usually starting in June.

Since I have four kids, a full-time job, three girl scout troops, etc, it’s important that I take care of things ahead of time, so that there are fewer mad-dashes at the end of the day, trying to get things ready. Being proactive means far fewer episodes of running around like a chicken with its head cut off, speaking in sentence fragments.

I know perfectly well what has to happen each year – Family Portrait, Christmas Letter, Christmas Cards, Christmas Calendar to send to my former au-pairs, and gifts for a very long list of people. I know that I have to be proactive. If I waited until the last minute to start, only a small fraction of things would get done, and they would be done badly. Instead, I set myself a set of small goals, like getting the family portrait done by Mid-October, Calendars by November 1, etc. I can work on each of the tasks in small time chunks, since none of the items by itself is very large, and some things, like addressing cards, can be done in short pieces.

By being proactive, I’ve learned that Christmas can be a very fun time of year that is spent with my family, focusing on the real reason for the season, rather than tearing around like a crazy woman trying to get everything together.

How are you proactive in your life? Comment below!