As we embark on our life's journey, we have a choice. A choice to either react to the world around us by waiting to see what happens or to become proactive by foreseeing what may come. By being proactive and anticipating what may come, you create the opportunity to prepare and even sometimes, avoid life's obstacles. We provide ourselves with the greatest chance to live a happier and healthier life.
As a soccer coach, I constantly see these situations happen on the field. A player passes the soccer ball to his teammate. His teammate traps the pass, taps it quickly and rushes past the defender. Before the defender even scanned the field, “his mark” was sprinting straight past him. That defender, whether he meant to or not, made the decision to react to the play instead of reading the field before the pass.
That is where I come in. As a coach, I want to train my players to be proactive. I want our players to be able to read the game so they can know when to expect the ball and what they will do with it before the ball is even at their feet. Well-trained players do this by scanning the area around them and uncovering triggers or “cues” within the game. Understanding these cues enables them to anticipate what may happen next, which helps the team take control of the game.
Looking at the example I gave above, while the defender was busy watching the play happen before his eyes, he missed all the cues that would have allowed him to have control of the situation. In what direction were the player’s hips pointing? Where did his first touch go? What other teammates were near by for a clear pass? The ability to read the field is tough; it takes a lot of time, practice, and coaching. But learning to foresee future plays and predict outcomes can lead to many big wins, not just for the player himself, but also the team as a whole.
And just like in this example on the field, we can start to identify the trigger or cues off the field that happen to better prepare us for what's to come. Take for example a stoplight. The average person waits until they see the yellow light flash, okay maybe even the red light, before they start to step on their brake. Or maybe they wait until they see the red lights of the brakes from the car in front of them go off. Which is fine, the cues for you to stop are brake lights or the light turning red. You reacted to the situation and in most cases that turns out just fine. But what if you could plan just a little bit further? What if you didn’t just wait for the stoplight to turn? What if you looked at the brake lights of the car three cars ahead of you? What if you looked at the pedestrian crossing sign telling you the number of seconds you have until the light changes? Maybe, just maybe, you would be able to foresee enough of the future to stop before a minor fender bender, or maybe you’d be able to see the cop that was hiding behind the sign to give out tickets. By paying attention to the small cues that lay in front of you, you’re better able to predict and prepare for different outcomes. Now sure, you will never be able to stop all challenges or situations that come your way. And that isn’t the point of being proactive. Proactive to me means analyzing the different cues of a situation, identifying potential outcomes, and taking calculated actions in order to try to make better decisions. Whether on a soccer field defending your team for the championship or off the field avoiding any potential accidents, finding those cues can help shape your future.
So take some time today to reflect on how you see your world, are you reactive or proactive? Create a list of any challenges (i.e., times that you reacted to a situation) that you may have gone through, and then try to think of the triggers or cues that may have helped you better overcome or avoid those challenges. Write those triggers down and start anticipating what's to come next time they show up. By practicing this technique of noticing all the triggers or cues happening around you, you will be able to better prepare for what's to come and help yourself to a happier life.