Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pro-active V.S. Re-active

The most valuable lesson I learned from habit #1 of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is the lesson of emotional identification. Practicing the skill of proactivity has several facets, but the primary one is to shift your thinking from being Re-active to being "Response-able", or "Able to Respond". The difference lies in our thinking pattern. Being able to respond means that we are choosing our response to external stimuli.

Think about when you are driving through traffic on your way home from work. Someone cuts in front of you and they didn't use their turn signal. You quickly hit the brakes and yell, "Nice driving, dipwad!" (Or something else more colorful.) You have in no way hurt the person that cut you off. They didn't hear your words of anger, but your body definitely felt the effects of increased blood pressure and adrenaline surge from the outburst. This is an example of a reactionary scenario.

Now, in the same scenario, if the driver who was cut off doesn't burst out, but instead says something like, "They didn't use their turn signal," they are an example of being proactive. They chose their response rather than allowing the first emotion they felt to come tumbling out.

The reason that being proactive is something that is identified as a practice that is effective is because the person who uses a proactive approach to situations gets more out of them and at a lower personal cost. But how does this apply to Fun Dollars? This pay cycle, I am putting this concept to the test. There are many ways that I could use "Be Proactive" with spending, so I am just going to focus on my personal experiences with this concept to illustrate it.

For about three months now, I have been losing weight. I have been chasing around a newly-walking one-year-old as well as significantly reducing my wheat consumption. As a result, the clothes that fit me before I got pregnant are now saggy-baggy on me. Last week, at the end of the pay cycle, I was in the car with my husband and he made some comment about a shirt I was wearing. I burst out at him on a tirade about how stressed I was about my clothes and how half my closet is second-hand and doesn't fit me; it was a very reaction-based monologue. Afterwards, I apologized, realizing that I had acted very un-proactively. It was good to identify how I really felt about it, and on the flip side of the proactive coin, I needed to take action.

So, instead of feeling burdened by my baggy clothes, I decided to celebrate the opportunity to go shopping. My birthday was approaching, which meant birthday money from some family and friends. I decided to make the most of my Fun Dollars by coupling it with whatever birthday money I received to round out my wardrobe.

Knowing that this was my plan, I proactively went through my closet on Sunday, the day before we got the paycheck for this week's Fun Dollars. I tried everything on and my husband gave me thumbs up or down. I made piles of "Keep", "Donate", "Recycle" (for stained or ripped things that are sent overseas), "Maternity" (yes, there were still some stragglers) and "Sister" (stuff to be sent to my fabulous sister.) Now that I had an idea of what I was working with in my closet, I could now go shopping and be proactive about it. When making wardrobe decisions, I like to make sure I know what I am dealing with first. I do not like buying clothes blindly. I want every dollar I spend to make sense with what I already have.

My Shopping Escapade continues....stay tuned.....

Happy Spending!

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