Having a proactive mindset is the beginning of implementing a self-care routine. It can feel indulgent or irresponsible to work on yourself when other people need your attention. But, that can all change with just a few simple tips!
What does your perfect day look like? Not the day where you’re sitting on a warm beach with a cool drink. No, I’m talking about the day where you crawl into bed feeling like you were a successful human.
Think about how that day unravels. What time do you wake up in the morning on that day? Which items on your to-do list do you get done first on that day? After everything is said and done, how do you feel at the end of that day?
Taking the time to be thoughtful about how you want your day to go, and then breaking down the steps of that day is called being proactive. You start with daring to dream that your day could go any better than it currently does, and go from there.
The opposite of a proactive mindset is a reactive one.
When you are in a reactive state, you are constantly scrambling to give your attention the most immediate need.
For instance, maybe you are trying to manage your anxiety by using a journal and you want to be more consistent about letting go of the stress from each week. So, you carve out a couple of hours on a Saturday to sit and write.
You pull out your computer and notice that you have received an email from a family member reminding you of a birthday party that is coming up in a couple of days, which you had completely forgotten about.
After reading the email, you reply to the family member, and then open a web page to your favorite online retailer. You spend 20-minutes shopping for a birthday present so that you and your family don’t show up to the party empty-handed.
Then, your daughter comes into the room and asks you to help her tie the ribbon on her doll’s dress. This reminds you that you committed to donating used toys to the school carnival and Monday is the deadline.
So, you head upstairs to your children’s room and begin to pick toys from the deep recesses of their closet, where you discover a giant pile of dried something or other.
In no time at all the two hours that you had carved out for writing in your journal has been eaten up by various “chores” that were not nearly as important as getting grounded and calming your mind.
“An apparently insignificant issue ignored today can spawn tomorrow’s catastrophe.” – Ken Poirot
Switching your focus to every single task that comes to your attention is called being reactive.
If this sounds familiar … it’s time to stop the madness, get proactive, and get a plan.
A big part of being proactive is saying “No”, and letting go of the guilt. If you’re not quite ready to say that, you can start with, “Not right now”, and work your way up.
This is especially true when it comes to requests from your family. Women are natural caregivers. And, have a subconscious tendency to stop what they are doing and address the needs of everyone around them. But, as midlife women, we’re smarter now and there have to be some boundaries around this.
If you are being proactive and you have a plan that you are following, then when someone comes to you and asks for your attention, you have to gauge how immediate their need is … and whether or not it can wait.
If you continue to drop what you are doing to tend to others … you continue to be reactive. The good news is – you can learn to be proactive.
Schedule time for interruptions.
If you have one-hour to work on your self-care, schedule two 5-minute breaks.
This way when someone comes and asks you for help with something, you can say “When the timer goes off and I have a break I will help you.”
Carving out time for the interruption is proactive. Stopping what you are doing in the moment you are asked to is reactive.
Make sure you have everything that you will need.
Before you dive into writing in your journal or starting your meditation, think ahead through the process and make sure that you gather everything that you will need to complete your task.
Do not open any windows on your computer that you will not be using (e.g., email, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.). These will only serve as distractions.
If it is safe to do so (you aren’t worried about missing something important) keep your phone away from your work area so you are not tempted to answer texts, social media notifications, etc.
Set an intention for what you want to accomplish.
Assess how much time you have available and how many tasks you have on your list. Then set a goal for what you will accomplish during the allotted time. For instance, maybe you need to practice visualization.
Your goal might be, “I will sit quietly with my visualization practice for 15 minutes.” This goal will keep you focused during your work time.
Be motivated to learn.
Don’t wait until you have the “right” circumstances for quiet focused work. There will be days when you have to work in an environment that is full of distractions.
But, if you follow the above tips, and maybe listen to some orchestra music through headphones to tune out the noise a bit, you can get your work done regardless of the environment you are sitting in.
Some other tips for shifting to a proactive mindset are:
- Celebrate your wins and take compliments
- Focus on the moment right now ~ not the past or future
- Stay focused on what you can control
- Be a big picture thinker and don’t dwell on the minutiae
- Make yourself a priority and get rid of any guilt around that
- Remember that progress IS perfection … keep forward movement
- Be a problem-solver. Always focus on solutions and not dwell on the problem
- Own your power and recognize that you can change some things
- Be consistent. Show up daily.
- Trust yourself and believe you can count on you
The “right” time to work on yourself is NOW.
You might regret starting this journey … but, you will NEVER regret reaching a point of personal development where you know how to manage your anxiety and live each day with love and compassion.