Proactive vs. passive life

posted by Jeff | Sunday, February 5, 2012, 1:59 PM | comments: 0

I was thinking the other day about how my approach to life has changed lately, specifically in the last year. I feel like I'm far more proactive about how I go about stuff, and that there might be a natural curve in how these things play out.

I suppose one could argue that I've had my successes and failures over the years, but in some ways I feel like I've been along for the ride, sitting on a boat and letting the current take me where it goes. Socially, this is entirely how I approached life, which explains why I dated so little in my college days. I wasn't deliberately trying. Professionally, I've done much of the same thing. I remember spending a year and a half in a job where I wasn't learning anything, wasn't doing anything I liked and just showed up.

Then 2007 happened. By that time, I was socially as proactive as I could be, eventually meeting a woman that I'd marry. In 2009, I sort of got a professional kick in the nuts, realizing that I could move for greener pastures. In 2011 I had all kinds of financial epiphanies about what wealth really is and how borrowing can be bad, and that led to another move and a massive shift in goal setting.

Admittedly, the professional part doesn't have the clarity in direction that other parts of my life have, but in a bigger sense, I feel like I'm not just going along with life. It feels like I'm giving it direction. In a lot of ways, I'm following an inverse curve that a lot of my friends have. Some folks graduate from high school with a grand plan that involves college, marriage, a house, 2.2 kids and a corner office. They all find out that those plans never work out as they expected, and they're often miserable until they embrace some of the chaos and unpredictability that goes with real life. With all of that advice giving to younger friends, it turns out that my way of drifting quasi-aimlessly wan't much better.

When you compare the proactive and passive life, it turns out that something in the middle is the best way to go. If you yearn for total control and adherence to the plan, you will absolutely be disappointed with the outcome. If you sit back and let life happen to you, you will absolutely be disappointed with the outcome. It seems then that embracing a little of both is the way to go.

How's that working out for me? I think it's a net win. I miss Seattle like crazy, but the proactive decision to deal with the chaos of not being able to sell my house has put us in a much better place financially. I took action on something that happened to me. I'm being an active participant without overlooking the daily moments, and I think I'm happier for it. There is still a lot to figure out, and I'll never have all of the answers, but I get a lot of peace from knowing I'm doing what I can.


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