What is the best approach to adopt in life to navigate through it?
If you ever see my car, you will see a lot of dents and scratches and minor damages. I used to be obsessed to try to keep my car as pristine as possible.
However I come to realize that when I am driving or manoeuvring, I am not the best at it. My friends make fun of me by saying that I bought my driver license in Dakar, Senegal. That could be a possibility, yet it is not the truth.
I did pass my written exam and took the mandated 20 hours of driving before passing the exam. I did get my licence the regular way. There is just something with driving which I am not very comfortable with.
While driving, I see all the damages to my car, and I try to avoid making more damages. I am always distracted when manoeuvring. I hit street objects all the time.
I am not the best driver that is in my neighborhood. And I know it. While on the road, I do not anticipate anything, I am counting on others to anticipate, if not I will just react to avoid any hurdle.
In all life events, we are generally having 3 different approaches.
Here are the 3 types of approaches:
- Reactive: focusing on the past
- Proactive: focusing on the present
- Predictive: focusing on the future
Depending on the situation, one approach might be more suitable than the other. However there is a mindset in having a dominant approach in our lives.
Let’s deep dive in each of them for more details.
1. Reactive: focusing on the past
Definition: responding to events that already happened.
In most of Human history, we have been blind and not prepared for the dangers in front of us. We have survived by being able to react very quickly to every situation.
This kind of reactive mindset is great for people who are in the battlefields, in sports and in improv comedy. I bring improv comedy in the discussion because this is an art form I have been practicing for more than 2 years now. I love the fact that I just have to come on stage.. All I have to do is accept and add from what my peers are saying.
Being deliberately reactive is a very efficient way of saving energy because you adjust your level on the fly and depending on the situation.
However not being aware that we are having a reactive approach to our interactions in life can bring more harm than good. We might save some energy for not preparing, however the amount we spend to cope with what is happening is at least twice the energy we save in the first place.
We live in a very uncertain world, a post Covid-19 era where no model exists to predict the next event. We are flooded with tweets, breaking news, notifications. If we are reacting, we are just a thermometer, fluctuating at a frequency which is so high that it is humanly impossible to sustain.
We end up frustrated and we feel powerless.
I always strive to be a thermostat most of the time. However it happens to me to turn the thermometer from time to time.
By adopting the reactive mindset, we are handing over the keys to our kingdom to whatever tweet or hashtag is trending. We are at the world’s mercy!
2. Proactive: focusing on the present
Definition: actively trying to identify any potential challenge as it happens.
I love to swim. Yet I never took swimming courses. When I was in high schools with some friends at “Lycée Lamine Gueye”, Dakar, Senegal, we would spend most of our lunchtimes at the beach “Anse Bernard.” We almost drowned some couple of times, yet we learned to swim on our own.
I feel comfortable going far in the water where I have no foothold. Each time we go on holidays at a beach, I challenge myself to go far. That moment is the one where I am the most proactive in my life. I will always make sure that each time, I swim far away from the land, I have enough breath to come back if needed.
Hence swimming is a very exhausting exercise for me because I have to be laser-focused all the time I am doing it.
This is an example of being proactive for me. In life, being proactive translates in assessing each situation we are in. We weigh down the pros and the cons. And most importantly we know that there are challenges. And we actively work on the moment to identify them and make sure that we can handle them properly.
Not having a proactive approach is what can drive us crazy. Sometimes we end up spending more time, money and energy on a lost battle because we did not get ready proactively.
Adopting the proactive mindset is making sure that we are eliminating some possibilities and limiting the number of outcomes to a viable minimum. It is energy efficient in the long run, not necessarily at the beginning, compared to the reactive mindset.
3. Predictive: focusing on the future
Definition: trying to identify any potential challenge that could occur in the future.
When in engineering school, I was the opposite of the valedictorian in our statistic and probability exam. I was that bad on stats and probability. I also remember my chemistry classes on atomic orbitals. It was a nightmare for me.
Now in theory I am very bad at stats and probabilities. However I am quite good at making the difference between what is possible and what is probable.
I know that it is possible that I can be the president of France. Yet I know that the probability is nil thanks to the systemic racism in France and the fact that the Republic is colorblind.
Whenever I am faced with multiple choices, I sit down and assess what is possible and balance all the possibilities with their likelihood of happening.
I love the American Dream sold by the media. However this is just a possibility. Indeed everybody can become rich and famous, or even the president of the United States. Thanks Donald Trump for lowering the bar. If every American citizen has the possibility, a happy few of them can probably become rich, famous or president, or the 3 of them, like Mr Trump.
By adopting the predictive mindset, possibility is pondered with probability and you can soon see in the future. Most people limit themselves in the possibility and they jump in the high speed train of the dream. However even if all trains have departure stations, only a few of them will probably arrive at their final destination, their arrival station.
We have to make sure to jump on the right train.
For me the predictive mindset is the ultimate one to have in life. It is energy efficient all the time. At the beginning it beats the reactive mindset. At the end, it smashes the proactive mindset.
When you work on predicting your future based on what is possible and probable, you are the eco master of your life.
Depending on the situations I am in, I might use the reactive or the proactive mindset. Yet being predictive in mond helps me keep the blogger goal in picture while performing on a daily basis and tackling any challenge.
How would you define your mindset: Reactive, Proactive or Predictive?
Do you have other approaches that yield better results than the 3 above?
Are you combining those 3 in your life examples?
Leave a comment below.
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You can read my previous article on What are the 3 figures to keep in mind to figure it out?