Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Paralegals: Are You Reactive or Proactive?

Are You Reactive or Proactive?By: Vicki Voisin, ACP

The question is: are you reactive or proactive?
Reactive people have a tendency to respond to things that happen, rather than making them happen. Their responses are hasty.

A term that might apply to their responses is "knee jerk".

Proactive people are always looking ahead. They focus on future activities, projects and events and then anticipate needs, problems and possible outcomes.

It is, of course, much better to be proactive than reactive.

Here are five tools you can use to be proactive in almost any situation:

1. Your Planner. Proactive people use planners the way they are supposed to be used: to record future events and scheduled activities.

When you are able to view future events, you can anticipate possible problems and act before they occur. Just looking at an event, such as a meeting, in writing sets your mind thinking about things you will need for that meeting.

It doesn’t matter if you use an electronic planner or a paper planner. What is important is that you use it.

2. Checklists. Proactive people use checklists for all repetitive events or activities.

Checklists are especially important for recurring activities you encounter at work, such as performing discovery, preparing for trial, and handling a real estate. They actually work well for anything you do, including meeting planning, travel, conferences, workshops and interviews.

Checklists must be updated frequently, adding anything that was missed so it won’t be forgotten the next time.

3. Goals. Proactive people hold planning sessions with themselves and set specific goals for the future.

They not only put them in writing, along with deadline dates, but they schedule time in their planners to actually work on them.

When you do this, you create your own future rather than allowing unplanned events to dictate your future...to plan your future for you.

4. Long-range planning. Proactive people recognize that it’s never too early to plan and that planning too late results in crises and time critical situations.

You’ve heard it said that if the Titanic had turned sooner, it never would have hit the iceberg. Small adjustments made early avoid having to make big adjustments at the last minute, possibly when it's too late.

5. Attitude. Proactive people recognize that attitude is their most important weapon in the battlet o remain proactive.

You have to have the right attitude or mindset to respond proactively. This means you don’t resent the work you must do ahead of time to be successful.

For instance, proactive people jot down items for discussion before they make a telephone call or make a list of the things they need before going to the supermarket. They consult a map before taking a trip and read the instructions before assembling a book case.

My request to you:  "Proactive" means to act beforehand. Taking action in the present will influence things in the future, perhaps even the future itself.

Practice those habits exhibited by proactive people: Think ahead. Set goals. Schedule time for activities. Plan daily. Use checklists. Review results. And continually make adjustments to improve future outcomes. Remember, there power in being proactive.

What actions do you take to be proactive?


© 2011-12 Vicki Voisin, Inc.

Do you want to use this article in your newsletter, ezine or Web site? You can, so long as you include this entire blurb with it: Vicki Voisin, "The Paralegal Mentor", delivers simple strategies for paralegals and other professionals to create success and satisfaction by setting goals and determining the direction they will take their careers. Vicki spotlights resources, organizational tips, ethics issues, and other areas of continuing education to help paralegals and others reach their full potential. She publishes Paralegal Strategies, a weekly e-newsletter for paralegals, and co-hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network.

More information is available at www.paralegalmentor.com where subscribers receive Vicki's 151 Tips for Your Career Success.

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