Is Being Passive Ruining Your Life?

Actions have consequences, but so does not taking them.

Posted Jul 22, 2020

Lukas_zb/Canva Pro
Source: Lukas_zb/Canva Pro

Consider the following four scenarios:

1. Tyra is about to leave home to go berry-picking with her kids when she notices she’s starting to get a headache. She puts the kids in the car and heads for the berry patch, hoping it goes away.

2. When Kiko’s boyfriend asks her where she’d like to go for dinner, she replies, “Anywhere you like.” He takes her to a restaurant with an outdoor patio that turns out to be more crowded than she’s comfortable with, and she spends a very uncomfortable hour there.

3. Zach gets a text from his sister saying, “I’d love to do a Skype call with you soon.” He waits for her to make the arrangements and, when she doesn’t, he decides she wasn’t sincere.

4. Surj, who loves creativity and technology, took a job at an insurance company so he could save money and go back to school. That was 10 years ago, and he’s no closer to his goal.

What do all of those have in common?

In each case, the heroine or hero was passive. They didn’t take action even to avoid discomfort, let alone to further their goals. This resulted in pain, discomfort, loss of connection and stagnation.

If you experience these more often than not, there’s a question you might want to ask yourself: How often do you find yourself waiting to see what happens, rather than taking action?

If "passive" describes your general approach to life, take heed. You could be in for a less rewarding life than might be possible with a more active stance.

Passivity, Action, Intention

The antidote to passivity is not just action, but intentional action. 

Action without intention will take us somewhere, but not necessarily where we want to go. 

So whereas passivity says, “Whatever happens will happen” …

And just plain action says, “I need to do something right now” …

Intentional action says, “This is what I want. What can I do in order to make it happen?”

Tyra could have taken headache medicine or cancelled the trip to the berry patch. 

Kiko could have thought about what’s important to her when dining out, and suggested an alternative.

Zach could have initiated scheduling a call with his sister.

Surj could have made a detailed plan that would have enabled him to be back in school by now.

Be Intentional, Take Action

None of the people in the four scenarios above meant to end up where they did. They got there by failing to be intentional about their lives, and not taking appropriate action in a moment when they could have.

We all know that actions have consequences. But being passive has consequences, too. Whether you're pondering big decisions or small ones, make your life everything it can be by bringing intention to your daily choices. 

Then take the actions you need to take in order to turn your intentions into reality.