Published July 21, 2015 | Updated August 22, 2018

How do you begin your day? If you’re like a lot of dealers, you wake to a smartphone alarm at 6:00am or so. Then, inevitably, before anything else, your eyes are drawn to that little colored badge on your email app…and boom, you’re immediately caught up battling the dragons of the day. No wonder you’re tired, frustrated and anxious before you even hit the shower.

Welcome to Reactive Mode, the default mode of stressed out businesspeople everywhere.

What Reactive Mode Is (and Why It’s Bad for Business)
Reactive Mode is beginning the day by asking, “Okay world, what have you got for me today?” The world, being the world, is only too happy to give you a metric ton of errands and action items and concerns, all marked “urgent”. But are they urgent for you? Or someone else?

The problem with starting the day like this is that it allows the world to set your agenda, to fill it up with everything but what you need to be doing to reach your entrepreneurial and personal goals. Instead of instigating events, you’re caught in an endless cycle of reacting to them, which leaves you no time or energy to move forward. To get where you want to go, you have to break the cycle of reactivity and get into Proactive Mode.

What Proactive Mode Is (and Why It’s Essential for Success)
If Reactive Mode is asking the world what it’s got in store for you, Proactive Mode is saying, “Okay world, this is what I’ve got lined up for you.” Every day, before the world has its say, you have yours. You set the tone. You set the agenda.

Of course, the day may not work out exactly the way you intend. In fact, it probably won’t. But what will happen is that, over time, you’ll find yourself moving closer to your business and life goals, instead of running around in circles. You may not be driving all the time, but you’re driving some of the time. And you’re in charge of the map (or the GPS app). And that can be enough to get you where you’re going.

7 Tips for Getting Into Proactive Mode
So how do you start your day in Proactive Mode? A few tips:

  1. Get an alarm clock. Yes, we all have smartphones that do everything now, including evaluating our sleep efficiency (whatever that is). But having one next to the bed is probably asking for trouble. Despite your best intentions, you’ll end up checking email. Or Twitter. Or something equally distracting. Everyone does. And once you do that, you’re off to the races.
  2. Stay away from screens for an hour after waking. No TV. No tablet. No laptop. No smartphone. A Kindle’s okay – reading in the morning is a good way to get a little smarter every day, an important part of any quest for world domination.
  3. Eat. Hunger is a distraction, too.
  4. Plan. Get a little paper notebook and write down the one, two, or three most important things to do that day. But no more than three. Focus is important and it’s really difficult to focus if you have 15 to dos on your list. You may as well just check your email.
  5. Exercise. Even a little activity every morning gets the blood flowing and improves your health. Plus, it clears your head and helps combat stress.
  6. Be with your family. Interacting with your loved ones before the day gets going keeps things in perspective, reminding you that some things are more important than work will ever be.
  7. Just be. Drink some coffee or tea or water and sit for awhile. Some of the best ideas you’ll ever have, you’ll get during these quiet times, before the day comes barging in.

If you’ve been stuck in a reactive rut lately, try taking some time at the beginning of the day to get your bearings before you set out. It could be just what you need to take your business to new places.