In a prior post I wrote about the little-known personality characteristic known as "proactive personality" that predicts entrepreneurial success. This really resonated with people, and I received several inquiries about the actions you can take to become more proactive. At the heart of this research is the idea that you can take initiative to increase the likelihood of success. The opposite of being proactive is being reactive, and reactive actions do not sustain long-term success.

With this in mind, here are 7 areas you can focus on that will help you shift toward being more proactive (and thereby successful!):

1. Focus more on the future.

There is a reason that the rear view mirror is smaller than the windshield: it's more important to know what lies ahead. Because we know the past we dwell on it, and use it to make predictions. This is useful to a point, but it can also constrain our thinking to what we already know.

2. Take personal responsibility for your success.

In an age when everyone has to have a "sponsor" to help their career, it can become easy to allow yourself to take a personal back seat with your career or business. Make sure you always focus more on what you can do to be successful than on what others can do for you.

3. Think big picture.

It's important to consider your ultimate goals. There will always be little things to worry about, but don't get so lost in the minutia that you lose track of what you are really trying to accomplish.

4. Focus on what you can control.

When you do this you will have more time to think ahead. In addition, ruminating excessively about factors outside of your control will cause stress and harm your wellbeing.

5. Prioritize.

You can't do everything, and if you try you will become reactive--bouncing from one item to the next. Focusing on a few big goals will lead to better success than focusing minimally on lots of goals.

6. Think through scenarios.

Focus on likely scenarios and create a plan. Plans can certainly change, but considering the most likely scenarios in advance will increase your chances of being prepared and remaining a step ahead of your competition.

7. Make things happen.

Don't sit on the sideline and wait to see what happens. When you are proactive and take initiative into the unknown you may fail, but you will win more.

Published on: Jan 28, 2015