How to be proactive. What are the 4 stages of responsibility?

What is proactivity?

Proactivity is defined as the approach of causing change and not only reacting to change when it happens.

It might sound very simple but the truth is most people are not proactive.

Proactivity isn’t just about taking initiative, to be proactive is to take responsibility for our own lives and not many people want to do that.

“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”

―Sigmund Freud

What does Responsibility mean?

Responsibility as Mr. Stephen R. Covey describes it is the ability to choose our response (‘Response-ability’).

This is what the stoics understood in ancient Rome. They knew that they were the master of their own life.

They lived according to their highest virtues and did not give in to the reactive way of thinking by blaming external circumstances. 

 “Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our actions. The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. “

 ― Epictetus

What is a proactive person like?

A proactive person takes responsibility and recognizes that the life he leads is mostly his doing. He is responsible for everything that happens to him.

A proactive person does not blame external factors such as his environment, his peers, or his upbringing for his life. He acts based on his values and not based on his feelings.  


With most people, their feelings are a result of their surroundings. If people around you treat you well, you feel well.

If your day isn’t going well and you face a few misfortunes at the beginning of your day, even though they may be minor, you might end up feeling bad.

When your feelings define your productivity, you are purposefully giving your surroundings, power over you.

At the end of the day, you still had the power to work unfazed, it was a choice.

Proactive people do not let their surroundings make decisions for them. They make decisions based on their own values and moral compass.

“.. But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.”

-Stephen R. Covey

Things that keep us from Proactivity

  1. Procrastination– When we know what we should be doing but instead we leave it for the future self to handle while we focus on our immediate comfort or pleasure.
  2. Perfectionism– As we discussed in the previous blog, one can spend an eternity just trapped in a struggle to improve and thus not act at all.
  3. Indecision– When one feels fear of the consequences and panic. In this state, you can’t bring yourself to a decision
  4. Waiting for inspiration– If all we did was work when we felt inspired we would not achieve much in life. Far more inspiration is born from taking action than that which comes randomly.
  5. Apathy– Giving up on action because you don’t care anymore. You give in to passivity because you don’t know what your purpose truly is.

Stages of responsibility, levels of proactivity

We aren’t all in apathy and neither are we all proactive. Our attributes in life aren’t like a switch that can turn on and off. It is more relative to each other, like a dial. Let us go through the stages and figure out where we stand.

1)Apathy – 

A person in this stage takes no responsibility for his life. He constantly faces choices that he keeps postponing.

He thinks maybe the problem will solve itself but that as we all know is highly unlikely.

This keeps the problems piling up in the future as the person keeps falling more and more behind.

2)Dependent and reactive person-

A person at this stage lives his life in passivity much like a person living in apathy.

However, when a problem arises and the person feels a sense of urgency, he gets up and deals with the problem, but only when it is urgent.


Yes, there is some care and purpose, as to not end up at the bottom.

However, is the person truly living up to his potential?

With constant passivity and short term distractions filling his life, he keeps falling behind until there is no choice but to act, and that leaves him in an endless cycle of trying to cover more ground than is possible playing catch up to where he should have been but isn’t.

3)Independent and active person- 

A person that is living here knows that he should not be dependent on external circumstances. He takes action in due times and does what is required.

theperfectadvise Proactivity

He is going strong and isn’t playing catch up like the reactive person but there is no growth and no incentive.

A person like this is meeting expectations, yes, but he is so caught up in doing just what is necessary that he always stays stagnant.

Such a person can maintain where he is at but not innovate.

He will achieve what he should but never exceed it. In a world that changes at a tremendous pace, anyone who cannot grow is one who is slowly dying out.

4)Interdependent and a proactive person-

A proactive person is one that takes initiative. He knows what is required but strives to find out what is possible.

He anticipates what other people need and delivers before they ask.

A proactive person makes things tick; he really listens and sees things from other people’s perspectives.

This helps him create win-win situations. An employee like this will know what the boss needs before he needs it.


A businessperson like that would be able to anticipate what the industry wants down the road.

Such people eventually increase the circle of influence; everyone comes to them to know what their take is on the situation.

In meetings before every action, the boss takes their opinion.

In Conclusion-

Thus, now you might know where you stand on the stages of responsibility.

Being responsible for ourselves is difficult, but without it, we can never take back control of our life.

Now that you know where you stand, it becomes important to work on climbing up to proactivity.

To do that this week, focus on what you speak and how you think. Are you thinking in terms of dependence?

Are you just catching up on what is required of you? When you catch yourself in a thought pattern, you need to practice your freedom to choose your response.

Every time you do it, you will feel a tremendous surge of power within you. This is because you took control and were able to break through the prison of conditioning built over so many years.

Another way to achieve proactivity is to introspect what direction you want to be headed in, to know what your callings are.

We provide a free eBook called The perfect beginning that might help you in finding your true callings. 

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 Well, that’s all for this post. Have a good day and a good life.