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“Test the principle of proactivity for 30 days and see what happens. Make small commitments and keep them.” Stephen R Covey

And that, ladies and gentlemen, ain’t easy.

For those unfamiliar with The 7 Habits, proactivity is where we exercise our self-awareness, creative imagination, independent will and conscience in the gap between something happening to us, and our responding to that stimulus. Note – response, not react. Reacting is instinctive and occasionally results in snapping, retorting, or arguing instead of contemplating, cogitating and considering the appropriate response.

T’other day I was driving along, minding my own business when a lunatic turned across my path, nearly wiping us both out. My instinctive response was to start chasing him/her, which is an example of reacting without consideration. But after about 500 yards or so I exercised the aforementioned endowments and decided that I hadn’t actually been hit, that there was nothing I could do if I caught him and I was more likely to have another bump if I kept up. I took the next roundabout and turned off. (I later called the police, it was that bad. And if he’d actually collided…… who knows.) Despite the adrenalin rush, I chose wisely.

But it wasn’t always so. In a similar incident I pursued and offending driver for about 3 miles, nearly losing control of my car at one stage. That incident taught me the lesson I applied more recently.

Proactivity works.

In terms of the second half of the quote, one of the commitments you could make to yourself for 30 days is to exercise proactivity whenever something happens that would cause you to bite, pause in the gap between that stimulus and your response, and decide instead to do something ‘better’. For example, when your partner says something you would like to correct or even attack, use the gap to decide whether any response is even necessary, or if it is, what response would not make the situation worse while still allowing you to retain your self-esteem.

Like I say – not easy, but really worth it.