Unleashing the Power of Choice: The Heart of Proactive Living

Article Summary

The article explores the concept of proactivity and challenges the notion of "I did not have a choice." It emphasizes that individuals always have a choice in every situation, even if it means choosing not to act. Discover the true essence of proactivity and how our choices shape our destinies. Uncover the four key influencers of our freedom to choose: self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will. From debunking limiting beliefs to understanding the power of personal responsibility, this article reveals the secrets to navigating life's challenges. Unleash the hidden potential within you and embrace the art of making conscious, impactful choices!

What is proactivity? This article forms a part of a series that will be delving deeply into the well-known word, Proactivity. This word is featured in most management literature, and no one is unfamiliar with it. It forms part of our everyday conversations, and wholesomely featured in all personal growth slash development materials. However, in this article, we want to debunk one of the known phrases we hear every time. This phrase is often uttered as an excuse, and some would sometimes accept this excuse. The phrase is: "I did not have a choice."

This phrase often does not go along with proactivity, in fact, a person who utters these words is often reactive, instead of proactive. This is where we need to understand fundamentally, how is it this phrase is often wrong, and can sometimes be our doom.

Our behavior is function of our decisions, not our conditions or circumstances

Have you that friend who will do you wrong, only for them to say, "I did not have a choice, and this was unintentional."? I would bet you have heard these words, one way or another. However, this is far from the truth. In every situation, dark or white, we always make a choice. Even doing nothing is a choice, you chose not to do anything.

Now, how does a highly effective person approach different situations in their lives? Think of it this way: often when you see the word "Proactive", you think about taking initiative, taking action to counter whatever unpleasantness you have encountered. However, Proactivity means way more than just taking initiative. It means we as humans, understand our responsibilities in this world, or in given situation, means being accountable and taking responsibility.

The word, "Responsibility", can be broken down into two words, "response-ability". As we can see, the word, "responsibility", is a concatenation if two strong words. This then implies the ability to choose our response.

Choices, we have to one every second

To make better sense of points being discussed, let us look into the following proactivity model:

"In every stimulus or situation, we always have a freedom to choose, which them informs our response."

The above is very clear, given any possible situation at hand, we have the freedom of choice, and that will inform our response or reaction. A proactive person understand they are responsible and accountable for their life. They cannot blame the situation, the circumstances, their boss or manager, their partner, friends or anybody else. They must hold themselves accountable. There are various factors that can influence our freedom of choice, and these are:

  • Self-awareness
  • Imagination
  • Conscience
  • Independent will

Now, we will look into how these factors can influence our freedom of choice, this our response, looking at the negative and positive.


What is self-awareness? Self-awareness is the ability to consciously and objectively recognize and understand one's own thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and characteristics. It involves introspection and reflection, allowing individuals to gain insight into their beliefs, values, strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. Self-awareness is a foundational aspect of emotional intelligence and personal development because it enables individuals to make more informed decisions, better manage their emotions, and work on personal growth and self-improvement. It also plays a crucial role in building effective relationships with others, as it helps individuals understand how their actions and emotions impact those around them.

Being self-aware is like being able to look at yourself in a mirror

Now, given this thorough explanation of what self-awareness is, we can already see how the polar opposite choices would play, when it comes to response. If a person does not have self-awareness, they will do just about anything, so long as they see it fit. They would not care about others, and they would not have a profound understanding of why they are responding to the situation the way they do. Lack of self-awareness would lead to a range of personal and interpersonal challenges that affect various aspects of one's life, including decision-making, relationships, emotional well-being, and personal growth. Developing self-awareness through introspection, reflection, and feedback from others is crucial for addressing these issues and improving overall quality of life.

We can see that a person with self-awareness is better equipped to make a wide range of choices that are more informed, intentional, and aligned with their values and goals. This could be healthy lifestyle choices, effective communication, effective conflict resolution, setting and achieving career and educational goals, emotion regulation, personal growth, effective decision-making, healthy relationship choices, good financial planning, conflict avoidance or engagement, setting boundaries, empathy and compassion, life purpose and values, time management and risk-taking.

This just touches on a few responses self-awareness can dictate.


What is imagination? Imagination is the mental ability to create, visualize, and explore mental images, ideas, concepts, or scenarios that are not present in one's immediate sensory perception. It involves the capacity to mentally simulate, invent, or "see" things in the mind's eye that do not exist in the physical world or to envision possibilities beyond what is currently known or experienced.

Imagination, what a wonderful ability we have

Imagination can be applied poorly in interpersonal relationships when it leads to unfounded jealousy, misunderstandings, creating drama, assuming negative intent, or spreading gossip. In intrapersonal relationships, poor imagination manifests as excessive worrying, self-criticism, unrealistic expectations, and rumination on negative thoughts, which can harm self-esteem and well-being. In both cases, misapplied imagination can lead to misunderstandings, conflict, and emotional distress.

Imagination can affect choices by influencing goal setting, risk assessment, problem-solving, creativity, empathy, decision-making confidence, and long-term planning. It can motivate us to pursue our visions, overcome fears, and facilitate personal growth. Imagination also plays a role in leisure and entertainment choices, impacting our overall life direction and interactions with the world.


What is conscience? Conscience refers to the inner moral and ethical compass within an individual that guides their sense of right and wrong. It is a deeply ingrained sense of morality and ethics that helps people make decisions and judgments based on their values, principles, and beliefs about what is morally acceptable or unacceptable.

Knowing the difference between right and wrong

A poor or underdeveloped conscience can affect choices by leading individuals to make morally questionable decisions without feeling guilt or remorse. It may result in unethical behavior, a lack of empathy for others, and a disregard for the consequences of one's actions. Poor conscience can contribute to dishonesty, harm to others, and a compromised sense of personal integrity. It can also lead to strained relationships and a negative impact on one's reputation and overall well-being.

A well-developed and strong conscience can positively impact choices by guiding individuals to make ethical and morally sound decisions. It encourages empathy, honesty, and consideration for others. With a good conscience, people tend to act in ways that align with their values and principles, leading to a sense of personal integrity and ethical behavior. It can also contribute to healthier relationships, a positive reputation, and improved overall well-being.

Independent will

Independent will refers to the capacity and determination to make choices, decisions, and take actions based on one's own judgment, values, and personal principles, rather than being solely influenced or controlled by external factors, societal pressures, or the expectations of others.

Independent will, our ability to choose

Independent will is an important aspect of personal autonomy and can be a valuable trait in fostering personal growth, ethical decision-making, and the pursuit of individual goals and aspirations. It allows individuals to live authentically and make choices that are true to their own sense of purpose and values.

However, there are several situations and circumstances where a person may not be able to freely apply their independent free will. These constraints can arise from various factors, including legal, ethical, social, or personal considerations, values and morals. For example, there are legal constraints that may prevent us from expressing our free will. Individuals may be subject to laws that restrict their choices and actions, such as traffic laws, tax regulations, or prohibitions on illegal activities. It does not mean we cannot avoid these restrictions, we can, but this translates to breaking the law. There are people we know personally, who got on the wrong side of the law. Employment Rules, we have to adhere to workplace policies and protocols. Parental Authority, Minors abiding by parental decisions.

Often exercising free will in areas that are constricted would result in severe consequences. However, the point to drive home here is that we can choose to apply our independent will in constricted areas or not. The wise thing to do would be obeying the law, listening to our parents, following roles of engagement set, policies. Without these guidelines, the world would be in chaos.

In conclusion

Keep in mind that, whatever is happening or happened, there is always a choice. It is true that others' decisions and choices can affect us. We are not living in a bubble, but we interactively live in a community, a society. One's decision can affect us, but we must always keep in mind that we always have a choice.

Yes, there are things we cannot choose. Things like our family, where we are born, how we are raised, and our parents, for example. But as we grow old, we can choose who to spend the rest of our lives with, where we can work, what we can become, etc. So, next time when you hear someone saying, "I did not have a choice", unless if they were constricted by the law or some policies, just know they choose not to show up for you. Same goes for you, if you see yourself uttering those words, just know there is always a choice, but do not do anything that will be considered unwise. Use your freedom of choice wisely and remember, you are responsible for the ins and outs of your life.

In every situation, in every circumstance, remember, you always have a choice. It's the essence of proactivity—acknowledging that our responses are a function of our decisions, not merely our conditions. Self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will are the key influencers of our freedom to choose. Our ability to consciously recognize our choices and make decisions that align with our values is what defines our character and shapes our destinies. While there may be constraints and external influences, the power of choice ultimately resides within us. So, let us use this power wisely, and let us not fall victim to the limiting belief that we have no choice. The truth is, we always do.