You pop out of bed on Monday feeling frantic. You’re ten minutes behind because you hit snooze and the anxiety is pumping through your veins. The week ahead is looming over you. You scroll through your emails, pop into Instagram and scramble to pick out your clothes. You pull the kids out of bed and race around the kitchen helping them pack their lunches. After all the chaos at home you get to the office ten minutes late. You’re behind. Again. 

Sound familiar? Feel like you’re always running behind on your day, your week, your emails, your projects, your goals? Unfortunately, this is normal. We live in a reactive culture. 

Most people aren’t living their life; they’re getting lived by it. 

Most people aren’t playing offense; they’re playing defense. 

Most people aren’t activating on goals; they’re playing catch up. 

You can’t afford to simply react. You have dreams and goals you need to steward. If you’re a leader of any kind (yeah, if you’re a parent you’re a leader) your reactive living creates a reactive anxious culture around you.  

You’ve got to flip the paradigm from living and leading reactively to living and leading proactively.  

How do I make this shift? Here are three specific ways.

Make decisions before you have to

Procrastinating pressurizes our decisions and makes us deeply emotional. Making little and big decisions ahead of time takes the emotion out of them and helps us live out our priorities. If you wait until the last minute the urgent will win over the important. Distractions will overtake your priorities. A wise decision becomes a rushed decision.  

Create micro habits that make decisions for you

To limit decision fatigue make the small things into habits you don’t have to think about. Hygiene, hydration, food, breaks, clothes, sleep schedule, technology use and email are little things that happen every day. Create simple habits to organize these ahead of time. 

You can also create these habits in a team or organization on a larger level. Some organizations call these SOPs (standard operating procedures). At Stay Forth we have a document called “How we Roll” that helps us make these decisions and build habits of interacting as a team ahead of time. Rules create safety. Safety creates space to risk, innovate and fail.   

Plan your day, week and year ahead of time.  

If you fail to plan you plan to fail (and create stress in the meantime). I used to live behind because I waited to see what the day would hold. Competing ideas swirled in my head and my phone and email dings ruled the day. Now I take ten minutes before looking at texts and emails to chart my course and declare a purpose (unifying theme) for the day in my Right Side up Journal. 

The most fruitful thirty minutes of my week is a prep session on Sunday afternoon where I open my Right Side up Journal and LOOK BACK at last week and LOOK AHEAD at next week. I answer a series of questions and I realize I had WAY more wins than I remembered. When I look at the upcoming week my clarity goes up and my overwhelm goes down. Now I wake up excited to start Mondays on offense.

You can do this for your year, too. Each year has similar rhythms. You can plan ahead and account for vacations, heavy work seasons, busy seasons for your kids and zones for recovery into your plans.  

Healthy living never happens accidentally. Making this shift and living healthy requires investments, and investing takes time to see noticeable growth. There’s no quick fix here. 

Resource to consult

We designed the Right Side up Journal to help you make the shift from reactive life and leadership to proactive life and leadership. We created a short tutorial video and long tutorial video to help you best utilize this.  

Questions to answer

What micro decisions can you look ahead and make proactively every day?

What larger decisions are approaching that you can make now?

What tool/s will help you plan ahead? (Of course, we recommend the Right Side up Journal, and this is exactly why we created it)  

Alan briggs

Alan briggs

Director of Culture and Coaching

Alan is a mountain guide for the leadership journey. He loves outdoor adventures, but the greatest adventure of his being a father and husband. Alan is crazy about helping hungry leaders conquer overwhelm and navigate with courage. He serves leaders and organizations around the country through coaching, speaking, consulting, designing experiences, hosting mastermind groups, writing his own books and ghostwriting for others. He co-hosts Right Side up Leadership Podcast and regularly writes for Outreach and Field Notes .